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Governor’s Address: There’s no excuse for violence from any side

The violent behavior in Charlottesville was more than despicable—it was deadly, causing the deaths of three people and injuries to many more.

Dear Maine Taxpayer,

I condemn anyone who believes in the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacy or racism. It has no place in our country.

I have spoken out forcefully against the KKK for seven years as your Governor. In the 1920s, the KKK had as many as 40,000 members in Maine. They came after Franco-Americans because they hated Catholics. They hated my family.

The KKK’s first parade to take place in broad daylight was in Milo, Maine in 1923. They didn’t even try to hide their hate.

As a Franco-American, I know the lasting and devastating effects this kind of hatred and discrimination can have on people. I denounce it in the strongest possible terms.

However, I also condemn the leftists who use hatred and violence against people they accuse of spreading hatred and violence. Both sides are wrong.

These leftists call themselves anti-fascists, but their techniques are right out the fascist playbook. They deprive the First Amendment rights of people who disagree with them. They use hate speech against the people they accuse of hatred.

They prevent people with different viewpoints from speaking at colleges. They physically attack supporters of politicians they don’t like.

The media is right to condemn neo-Nazis, white supremacists and the KKK. But they also vilify politicians who don’t comment on tragic events that happened in other states. They claim such silence is consent, and they draw the ridiculous conclusion that these politicians must support neo-Nazis.

However, the media itself is guilty of remaining silent. They don’t condemn or expose the dangerous thugs who are using classic fascist techniques. They are fanning the flames of this firestorm.

It’s admirable to take a stand against hatred and intolerance. But showing up with sticks and clubs and black masks is an invitation for violence.

The so-called “anti-fascists” went to Charlottesville looking for a confrontation. It cost the lives of a young woman and two dedicated police officers.

Those who want to be violent should listen to the mother of Heather Heyer, the young woman who was killed. Heather was there to peacefully protest against the white supremacists. She was not a member of the “anti-fascists.”

Heather’s mother called for all sides to come together, despite their differences. She asked people not to channel their anger into hate or fear or violence. Instead, they should have an honest discourse, even if it is an uncomfortable dialogue, and channel their anger into righteous action.

No matter what, she said, there is no excuse for hatred. We agree.

Our hearts go out to Heather’s family, as well as the families of the police officers who were killed and the people who were injured.

Thank you for listening.

Paul R. LePage

Governor

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