Thursday, January 20, 2011

David Farmer on LePage's provincialism

David Farmer has a very intriguing and well thought out guest column in today's Bangor Daily News. In it, Farmer suggests that LePage's actions and words toward the NAACP betray the governor's narrow view of the world, and his inability to see beyond his own circle of experience and influence. As Farmer puts it:

Gov. Paul LePage is no racist. At least not in any classical sense of the word.

Instead, his conduct suggests a lack of awareness or concern with the larger world outside the small circle of mostly older white men he has surrounded himself with. He appears to see little value in understanding perspectives different than his own.

I would say this viewpoint meshes more or less with my own. LePage is a man of limited cultural experience, limited political viewpoints, a limited worldview, and incredibly narrow and provincial idea of how society should work. For LePage, a black advocacy group represents the "other": a somehow threatening and misguided "other." The experience of all Mainers should be as his experience, and anyone whose experience varies must be doing it wrong.

I can think of no other explanation for why a rational human being would not only tell a civil rights organization to kiss his butt, but who would then make up lies that sound like the projections of right-wing fantasyland: where all minorities are out to shake down whites for free stuff, and all blacks are receiving preferential treatment that is worthy of resentment.

Just go to and read what they have to say about Obama's accomplishments. He only got into Columbia and Harvard because of affirmative action, etc. A white person with his credentials would have gone nowhere, etc. He's had everything handed to him, blah blah blah. We heard the exact same canard about Sonya Sotomayor. In both cases, as with LePage's embarrassing conduct toward the NAACP, we see the smug self satisfaction of indivduals incapable of understanding the varieties of cultural and racial experience in this country, who see any way but their own as somehow unworthy of credit or praise, and who see any intimation that racial inequality might exist in this country as playing the "race card" (whatever the hell that even means).

Of course, Maine is 99.9999999 percent white, so LePage's provincialism may find an eagerly assenting audience. But he sure as hell makes Maine look bad to the rest of the nation.

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