In this Oct. 2015 file photo, Republican Gov. Paul LePage speaks at a town hall meeting in Auburn, Maine.
Photo by Robert F. Bukaty/AP

Maine’s Paul LePage wants to give John Lewis a history lesson

Gov. Paul LePage (R) has sparked so many racially charged controversies, it’s tempting to think the Maine Republican would go out of his way to avoid the subject.

Alas, as this Portland Press Herald report makes clear, LePage just can’t help himself.
Maine’s Republican Gov. Paul LePage weighed in on the president-elect’s Twitter beef with a civil rights icon Tuesday, saying U.S. Rep. John Lewis should thank the president and study history.

“I will just say this: John Lewis ought to look at history,” LePage said during his weekly appearance on the George Hale and Ric Tyler Show, on Bangor-based radio station WVOM. “It was Abraham Lincoln who freed the slaves, it was Rutherford B. Hayes and Ulysses S. Grant who fought against Jim Crow laws. A simple thank you would suffice.”
Oh, I see. It’s not enough that John Lewis, an iconic leader of the civil rights movement, was nearly killed while fighting for equal treatment under the law. Paul LePage also wants Lewis to thank white Republicans for civil rights.

A Bangor Daily News piece made the case that the governor’s version of history isn’t even true.
Hayes’ election actually kicked off Jim Crow laws. The governor’s interpretation ignores that and leaves out almost 100 years of history.

Jim Crow laws, which enforced racial segregation in the South, were in place from the late 1870s to the 1960s. Grant’s signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was largely ignored in the former Confederacy.

Then, Hayes won office under the Compromise of 1877, an informal deal after a contested election that gave him the White House in exchange for promising to pull Northern troops out of the South. It allowed Jim Crow laws to take root. That’s why Lewis and others marched in Alabama in 1965, where he was beaten by state troopers.
Also this morning, LePage suggested Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), who announced this week she’ll boycott Trump’s inauguration, should resign from Congress. Apparently, in the governor’s mind, celebrating Trump’s ceremony is some kind of prerequisite to serving in the legislative branch.

LePage, elected twice in three-way contests, still has two years remaining in his second term. He cannot seek a third.


John Lewis, Maine and Paul LePage

Maine's Paul LePage wants to give John Lewis a history lesson