There are parts of Maine that are so white that French is an exotic ethnicity. You find more color in a Finnish Christmas than you do in these regions. As a result, representatives from Maine may have a bit of trouble trying to understand race relations; after all, their total exposure to Black America was probably the media coverage of the situation in Ferguson, and we know how even-handed the media was about that.
Given this, it’s no surprise that Maine state Senator Michael Willette can claim that the terrorist organization ISIS was President Obama’s “family reunion” but that he was “as far away from racist as you can get.”
He’s really sorry he said it, though.
On March 1, the good Senator posted the image of the president on Facebook with the words “Why haven’t I done anything about ISIS? Because I’ll deal with them at my family reunion” superimposed on it.
He captioned it with: “I’ve been very good over the last year and a half about not posting things about Obama, but this one was too good to pass up. I promise this will be the last one for some time”
Naturally, he was called out for it, and he took the Senate floor on Wednesday and issued a formal “apology.” However, he added that he was “profoundly disappointed” by the policies of the President, and said that the “frustration led me, against my better judgement, to make several criticisms of the president that were completely inappropriate. I can promise to you that this mistake in judgement will not be repeated.”
Willette also let the Senate know that he’s not a “birther” or racist, contrary to what his post may have suggested:
I’m as far from being a racist as you can get. When I served in the military, I had, you know, a vast array of friends. And any connotation of racism in those posts, if that’s what it was construed to be then that is not the intent.
I keep hoping, one of these days, that white people will realize “I have black friends” isn’t a good shield for accusations of racism.
This isn’t Willette’s first brush with “not-racism,” either. According to the Bangor Daily News, he has a “long history of online hate and bigotry.”
In a 2013 post, he commented that, “No one really knows who the hell Obama really is and his past is as hard to understand as Egyptian hieroglyphics.”
Speaking as someone who has a passing knowledge of both Obama’s past and Egyptian Hieroglyphics, learning the latter took longer than the former. The latter requires study and determination. The former requires several minutes and Wikipedia.
In another post, he said that President Obama was “living up to his Islamic heritage.”
While the President was attending Nelson Mandela’s funerary services in South Africa, Willette joked that, “we change the locks in the White House before he gets back and invite him to stay right there in his homeland.”
Regarding American Muslims, he would like to “[r]ound them up and air drop them back into the rubble and hell holes from whence they came,” and said of Hillary Clinton that Obama’s Scandals would “have its roots in her big ole ass and she won’t be able to shake it.”
But he’s as far from racist as you can get, guys, and he’s got Black friends, which makes this all totally okay.
Maine Democrats and Rachel Talbot-Ross, of the Portland NAACP’s chapter, said that Willette needs to be held accountable to his words.
In an open letter, Talbot-Ross told Michael Thibodeau, the Republican Senate president, that “As an elected official, Senator Willette should and must be held to a higher standard. It is also not enough for you and members of the Republican Party to issue a statement that merely condemns this ideology
Condemn the ideology? They’re not condemning the ideology, they’re repudiating Willette for being honest about mainstream Republican opinions.
[h/t and cover picture RS]