In defending himself from accusations of racism and homophobia on Friday, Maine Gov. Paul LePage made yet another explicitly racist comment — arguing that people of color or of Hispanic origin are "the enemy" and suggesting that they should be shot.
A bad guy is a bad guy. I don’t care what color he is. When you go to war, if you know the enemy, the enemy dresses in red and you dress in blue, you shoot at red. … You shoot at the enemy. You try to identify the enemy. And the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in are people of color or people of Hispanic origin.
The remarks were at a press conference responding to the news and controversy that LePage had left a state representative an expletive-laden, homophobic voicemail. According to the Portland Press Herald, a TV reporter suggested that State Rep. Drew Gattine (a Democrat) had called LePage (a Republican) a racist, and asked LePage how he felt about it. Upon hearing about it, LePage left Gattine a voicemail with profanity and homophobic insults:
Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage. I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you cocksucker. I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son of a bitch, socialist cocksucker. You … I need you to … Just friggin’. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.
LePage later expanded on his rage to the Portland Press Herald, saying, "When a snot-nosed little guy from Westbrook calls me a racist, now I’d like him to come up here because, tell you right now, I wish it were 1825. And we would have a duel. That’s how angry I am. And I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you; I would not be [Alexander] Hamilton. I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt and he has not done a damn thing since he’s been in this legislature to help move the state forward."
But if he had, he wouldn’t be the first to do so. LePage came under fire earlier this year after making other racist remarks at a town hall. LePage said:
These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty. These types of guys, they come from Connecticut and New York. They come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue that we got to deal with down the road.
The comments, surfaced by Get Right Maine, clearly played on racial overtones by using names typically attributed to black culture and hip-hop, and suggested that black people are outsiders, criminals, drug dealers, and rapists who take advantage of young white women. This racial trope in the war on drugs goes back to at least the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when local, state, and federal lawmakers pushed drug laws by suggesting that minority people would lure and harm young white women with drugs.
So LePage’s most recent racist remarks are really just the latest in a string of offensive comments over the past several months.