Perhaps one thing the mayor of Lewiston, Maine has yet to learn is to keep his personal feelings at the door.
Somali immigrants and their supports are asking for an apology and a letter of resignation from Lewiston mayor Robert MacDonald after an interview he did with British Broadcasting Corp saying that Somalis in the town and neighboring towns should “accept our culture and leave yours at the door.” On Thursday, protesters set up shop outside of City Hall in a rally to show their outrage. They also came armed with over 1,400 petitions to support their argument for Mayor MacDonald’s resignation.
Mayor MacDonald made a slight attempt to clarify his comments by saying that all he meant was that immigrants should try to assimilate into American culture. Further, he said his comments were taken out of context and he’d never make derogatory statements about Somalis.
Unfortunately, Lewiston’s Somali community has been the subject of many inflammatory comments over the last 10 years. Former mayor Larry Raymond wrote a letter in 2002 stating that the Somali population in 2002 was growing too fast and made a plea to Somali leaders that they discourage their friends and family from moving there because the city’s resources have been “maxed out.”
This also isn’t the first time Mayor MacDonald has come under fire with his comments. In a local newspaper, he once wrote that “submissive Somali women turn into obnoxious customers at the grocery store cash register.” He also told a reporter at a later time that immigrants shouldn’t “insert your culture, which obviously isn’t working, into ours, which does.”
I know, it’s Maine, so we shouldn’t be surprised. This is a state where 94 percent White – Lewiston is actually 86 percent White – and so maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of the political leaders there feel this way. But to openly make comments like that? Something is totally wrong with this picture.
Have you ever or do you currently live in a town where you feel that you have to “keep your culture in check?”