Maine Gov. Is Sorry If You Think His Racist Comment Was Racist
Republican Maine Governor Paul LePage faced some criticism last week–including from his own party–when he gave a speech about drug dealers coming to Maine, which included some rather unfortunate racial comments.
In the speech, Gov. LePage referred “guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty” who often come to Maine to sell drugs “half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave.”
Now, LePage has officially “apologized”–but not without noting that the real fault is with the “media” in Maine, who made a bigger thing out of this than it was. He continues to insist that although it was a “slip,” it wasn’t really racist because Maine is 94.4% white and the whitest state in the country.
“I was going impromptu, and my brain didn’t catch up to my mouth. Instead of ‘Maine women,’ I said ‘white women,'” LePage said, noting that Maine is among the nation’s whitest states.
He also chastised the assembled reporters, saying, “Get your heads out of the sand, please.” He added: “I probably couldn’t get so many of you here without saying something foolish.”
Let’s just note one thing here first. If you’re talking about nicknames, and you say “D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty”–most people are going to infer that you are talking about black men. If you said, I don’t know, “Paulie Two-Shoes,” they’d figure Italian, if you said “Hans Von Struesel” they’d figure you were talking about an extra in the Sound of Music. Granted, I can’t imagine anyone named “Smoothie” selling anything other than wheatgrass shots, but that is neither here nor there. I suppose we can only be grateful that he did not use “Huggybear” as an example.
Then, he feels the need to note that “half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave.”
That is just not a slip-up that non-racist people make. Even when they live in Maine! LePage knew what he was doing, and he was specifically acknowledging white fears about black men–the fear that black men are going to come around and sully their innocent white daughters. This goes way, way back.
The black brute who lays his hands upon a white woman ought not have any trial and all the white manhood of South Carolina want to know is that they have the right man and they will have no trial. If we cannot protect our white women from black fiends, where is our boasted civilization? — Cole Blease, Governor of South Carolina, 1912
Characterizing black men as predatory and white women as the pure, innocent victims of that predatory nature has been a pervasive form of racism since, well, pretty much the dawn of racism.
A casual misstatement is something like Dan Quayle saying “Welcome, President Bush, Mrs. Bush, and my fellow astronauts,” ok? That’s a mistake. A hilarious mistake, but a mistake. This is an objectively racist statement that yes, “the media” has a responsibility to call attention to, because the people of America have a right to know when the Governor of a state is being a gross racist.
Perhaps instead of getting mad at “the media” for calling him out on saying something this deplorable, Gov. LePage should set some time aside with his therapist to discuss why it is that such a statement would flow so freely out of his mouth.