Catholic Charities Maine (CCM) came to St. Joseph’s Parish in Bridgton, Maine last Friday night to talk about refugees and it was spirited. Chief Operating Officer Dean LaChance opened the meeting, but I don’t think he expected the skepticism voiced by many of the more than fifty people present. Quite a few raised their hands to ask penetrating questions before LaChance could get his prepared program going. The previous Sunday’s parish bulletin had announced the meeting:
Why are refugees in Maine? What sort of help do you they get? What would you do if you were faced with the same decisions? “In Their Shoes” is a dynamic workshop that will help you understand the path of a refugee and invite you to walk a moment in their shoes. This program will be presented on Friday evening, Sept 16th, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm at St. Joseph Church in Bridgton. “In Their Shoes” will engage you with staff from Catholic Charities Maine Refugee Program to learn about the refugee process, the population currently settled in Maine and the challenges faced by the state’s newest arrivals. All are welcome!
Well, the half-dozen CCM staff who came never got an opportunity to launch “In Their Shoes.” LaChance started easily enough with a brainstorming, word association exercise asking the audience what words came to mind when he said “immigrant.” We got a clue about how the evening would go when someone shouted out “welfare,” which LaChance dutifully wrote on a chalkboard. Someone else said, “hijra(h),” and had to spell it for LaChance. If you google hijra(h), most links say it’s an Indian word for a cross-dresser, but Robert Spencer, a researcher on radical Islam, said it’s an Arab/Muslim word meaning “jihad by emigration.”
A man claiming to be a member of a local school board protested that schools incur enormous costs to provide ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers for refugee children. He soon got rambunctious and interrupted several times as LaChance, always polite, tried to recover control of the meeting. When several in the audience got annoyed with the man, he left. Others offering skeptical comments did so respectfully and LaChance seemed like a nice guy who believed his agency was doing important work. He said CCM’s refugee efforts fulfilled a social justice mission of the Catholic Church, citing Matthew: 25. Then he cued a woman to begin a powerpoint presentation.
In it, young girls speaking Kurdish with English subtitles described arduous day-to-day life in a refugee camp somewhere in the Middle East. LaChance said all refugees Catholic Charities brings to Maine are closely vetted by multiple US Government agencies and screened for health issues. Some in the audience, however, questioned how that could be done in war zones or in failed states. LaChance said refugees reported being raped and seeing family members killed. A woman in the audience suggested they could be lying to get into the US. LaChance shrugged.
CCM's Tarlan Ahmadov
I asked about a document required by the State Department of agencies like CCM called a “Reception and Placement Abstract.” LaChance said CCM files them and I asked if I could have a copy. The R&P Abstract outlines how many refugees would be coming to Maine each year and where they would be placed. First he said I could get one from the state, then said CCM would give me one. I’d heard concerns that Bridgton was a possible destination, so I asked if the R&P Abstract included any places in Maine other than Portland and Lewiston. LaChance looked to Tarlan Ahmadov, CCM program director for refugee services, who said, emphatically, “No.”
Types of female genital mutilation
Another woman in the audience said she had worked in the Portland, Maine school system where Somali refugee girls told her they were being taken to Boston for female genital mutilation. LaChance and Ahmadov acknowledged that and also other mistreatment of females by Muslim men. They said CCM was a mandatory reporter and they often warned male refugees they could be arrested for beating wives or daughters.
Somali refugees in Lewiston convicted of welfare fraud
I came away from Friday’s meeting thinking that if little Bridgton, Maine is any indication, there’s more grassroots opposition to Muslim immigration out there than people think -- and it’s likely to manifest on the ballot November 8th.
How many times have I been called a racist? Dozens at least, perhaps hundreds. How about homophobic? Yup, about as many. Islamophobic? Check. Misogynist? Check. Xenophobic? Got it. Let’s see, what’s left? How about bigot? Yeah, that too — all of which puts me right in Hillary’s “basket of deplorables.” I also qualify as one of President Obama’s “bitter clingers” and as a member of that other group Hillary doesn’t like: the so-called “alt-right.” I didn’t know what alt-right was when she said it a few weeks ago but I looked it up and yes, I qualify.
The first time I remember being called racist in print was twenty years ago after I wrote a column supporting the California Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI), otherwise known as Proposition 209. It was a referendum question, which read:
The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.
The “racist” accusations — and there were three as I recall — were in letters to both papers carrying the column, and they bothered me. I knew there was no basis, but they made me feel bad because racism is an ugly thing and I didn’t want any association with it. I’d been putting my opinions out there for three or four years by that time and I had gotten plenty of flak, but not that kind. Heck, I was writing against racial discrimination. How could that be racist?
Leftist poster from the anti-209 campaign in 1996
Proposition 209 would have made so-called Affirmative Action programs illegal because they give preference to blacks and hispanics over Asians and whites in college admissions, when hiring for teachers, police, firemen, and so forth. That’s racial discrimination, of course, but it’s the kind approved by the left — and leftists attack anyone who points that out. Since they cannot argue using facts, all they have is name-calling. They’ve flung the racist charge so often for so long, it has become a reflex. Columnist Mark Steyn calls it “Democrat Tourette’s Syndrome.” When I realized that, the “racist” charge didn’t phase me anymore. It’s continued use became an indication that I was scoring points against the left.
Though I’ve been a Christian all my life, I’ve always had difficulty with the turn-the-other-cheek thing. My natural tendency when somebody strikes me on either cheek is to strike back at both their cheeks harder and more often — and I don’t really see anything wrong with that. Such was my inclination when letter-writers insulted me with false charges of “racism.” I didn’t strike back though, neither physically nor in writing. I remembered the advice an editor at the Lewiston Sun-Journal gave me years ago: “Don’t respond,” he said. “Most readers will have read both your piece and the letter. Trust them to make up their own minds about who is right or wrong.”
It was good advice and someone should have given it to Maine Governor Paul LePage. He was enraged after a leftist legislator suggested he was racist. Lepage called him and left an obscenity-laced voicemail which the legislator sent to the media. That was dumb — very dumb. It’s one thing to feel like striking back but quite another do actually do it. LePage gave his enemies a club with which they will beat him as long as he’s in office.
Accuser and accused
I voted for LePage twice and I don’t regret it given the choices I had. I intend to vote for Trump too, even though I would have preferred any of the other Republicans who opposed him in the primaries. Against Hillary though? I have to vote for him and I will, but I wouldn’t call myself a “Trump supporter.”
So, even though I don’t support Trump, I still belong in Hillary’s “basket of deplorables.” Here are my bona fides:
I see abortion — the dismembering of babies in their mothers’ wombs — as barbaric, so I’m against “women’s health” and therefore women too according to Democrats who consider pregnancy a disease. So, I’m hopelessly “misogynist.”
I oppose importing tens of thousands of unvetted immigrants from Muslim-terrorist-dominated countries, therefore I’m both “Islamophobic” (unreasonable fear of Islam) and “xenophobic” (unreasonable fear of foreigners).
I consider it unnatural for two women or two men to “marry,” Therefore I’m “homophobic.”
I cling to both my guns and my religion, so I’m a “bitter clinger.”
I believe western civilization superior to other civilizations before or since, and prefer the melting pot model to multiculturalism. Evidently that makes me “alt-right."
One can scarcely drive a mile in Maine without seeing little bundles of firewood wrapped in cellophane or tied by twine for sale beside the road— $3 each or two for $5. Sitting by a crackling fire is something tourists visiting the north country like to do. Kids will find sticks and roast marshmallows. If it’s dark, people may tell ghost stories. Lovers hold hands. Children snuggle with parents and older siblings. People tend to talk and listen better around a fire. They’re more intimate in that setting than almost any other and don’t tend to take out their cell phones either.
Campers might cook over a wood fire either by roasting something on a spit or frying after it burns down to coals. Cooking and eating lend another dimension of intimacy to the fireside experience. Few, if any, of us grew up cooking over an open fire except at cook-outs or when camping, but many of our ancestors prepared meals with a wood-fired cook stove little more than a century ago. Before cook stoves they used a fireplace equipped with a swinging iron arm upon which to hang a cooking pot. Next to that was a brick oven. few of us alive today in America grew up that way but many of us still prefer smoked foods like meat, fish, nuts, or even beer made with hops that were smoked. Where does that come from? Some primitive collective unconscious perhaps? If we go far enough back in our family tree, all our ancestors cooked over an open fire.
Soon it will be cool enough that we will light a fire in the fireplace, and we’ll do that the first few cold days before turning on the central heat. I’ve already begun wearing long pants some days and taking a fleece with me in the car when I go out, just in case. September is like that and I’ll put my shorts away for good sometime in October.
Not long ago that I spent Sundays in October and November laying in the firewood I had cut during summer. For more than twenty years, I worked it up from stump to stove to ash pile. I didn’t think much about how much energy that took, but now it makes me tired just to remember. Looking out over my back field, I recall cutting seven or eight cords each year and twitching it up with an old tractor as I opened a view to the western mountains. Now I can feed my fireplace with just the trees and limbs that blow down each year. I don’t miss all the work wood heat entailed I’ll always enjoy a fire.
I grew up in suburban Boston with oil, forced-hot-water heat. It came on automatically and kept the house at an even temperature. I don’t remember hearing the boiler kick on and the only thing I noticed was a kind of crackling sound the copper pipes and baseboards would make as hot water moved through them. My father paid the oil bill and I never had to think about it. I can’t even remember how my first apartment was heated because it was included in the rent and I didn’t have to think about that either. Then my wife and I moved into an older apartment heated by a natural-gas-fired stove. The farther we were from that stove the colder we felt. We paid for the fuel too and that’s when it really intruded into my consciousness.
When we moved our young family to Maine in the seventies we had to pinch pennies. Fuel prices were way up back then so we heated with wood. Keeping enough on hand was my responsibility and I had to be conscious of it year-round. It’s only been eighteen years or so since we became prosperous enough to rely on the oil furnace to stay warm and the kids are grown up with families of their own now. Two of them heat with wood, and I notice that all three have a fire pit in the back yard.
We humans have a primitive fascination with fire. When we want to set a mood, we don’t turn on a light; we light a candle. We know fire is a powerful thing that can keep us from freezing to death in these northern climes, but we also know it can kill us. As New England endures another prolonged drought, older citizens remember fires that wiped out whole towns here in Maine.
Brownfield, Maine Fire, 1947. (Photo Jo Radner)
We’ve all been warmed and we’ve all been burned, and we learn not to play with fire. Used respectfully though, it enriches us.
Two young black men are darlings of Democrats these days: Ta Nehisi Coates and Deray McKesson. Both grew up in Baltimore and both support Black Lives Matter. Both are educated and well-spoken as long as you don’t listen too closely to what they’re saying. McKesson is a founder of Black Lives Matter and Coates wrote the book Between The World And Me that, “has become the intellectual and emotional voice of the Black Lives Matter movement,” according to Robert Cherry writing in the New York Post last week. Both are moving to take over from the two alleged Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Like them, McKesson and Coates preach that black men are victims of white supremacy and white racist cops are looking to shoot them down.
Both want to keep race an issue in American politics. With the cooperation of the Mainstream Media and millions of liberals suffering from white guilt, they’re succeeding. Other Americans, however, are sick of hearing about it. Coates exacerbates that race fatigue by pushing reparations for descendants of former slaves, claiming it’s the best way to counter the ostensible pervasiveness of white supremacy. When US Senator Bernie Sanders was asked in a debate if he supported reparations, however, he said no, because it would never get through Congress and because it would be divisive.
3-minute podcast of my Sanders interview
When I got the opportunity last January, I asked Sanders why he thought it would be divisive but he dodged the question. He instead lamented black poverty and black unemployment, but I followed up by asking if he believed paying reparations was a good idea on its face. After he dodged again, Conway Sun publisher Mark Guerringue asked if he supported the principle of reparations. Then Sanders put the question back on us: “Does anybody else support the principle of it? Do you support the principle of it?”
“No,” said Guerringue.
“No candidate does,” I responded.
“It’s a big word,” said Sanders. “What does it mean?”
A fair question. Newsweek tried to answer it in 2015 putting out cost estimates for reparations ranging from $36 billion to $10 trillion and citing obvious problems like who would get it and in what form? As Jackson and Sharpton fade away, Coates and McKesson keep stoking guilt in liberal white America — a major Democrat constituency. Both men are at the core of Democrat efforts to portray the problems of black America as “the lingering effects of slavery” and not the legacy of disastrous Democrat policies.
Sharpton and Jackson
Some older black Americans have a different view. Economist Thomas Sowell believed the Democrat view as a young man, but rejected it later in life. In his 2014 article: A Legacy of Liberalism, Sowell contends: “The current problems facing blacks in America owe more to the Great Society than to slavery. Nearly a hundred years of the supposed ‘legacy of slavery’ found most black children being raised in two-parent families in 1960. But thirty years after the liberal welfare state found the great majority of black children being raised by a single parent… The murder rate among blacks in 1960 was one-half of what it became 20 years later, after a legacy of liberals’ law-enforcement policies.”
“I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, of they are rotten to the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him the chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!”
Douglass’s opinion echoes the thinking of black Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley. He must have had Douglass in mind when naming his recent book. He was making a plea to liberal Democrats when he picked the title: “Please Stop Helping Us.”
Two Muslim immigrants who lived in Maine were killed fighting for ISIS and each left a wife and children here on welfare. The second, Adnan Fazeli, was revealed last week by the Portland Press Herald, but how many people realize there was at least one other? And, are there any more? If so, that information would be kept under wraps as long as possible.
The first was Abdirahmaan Muhumed, aka Abdifatah Ahmed, about whom I wrote in January, 2015. He was born in Somalia, raised in Minnesota, lived in Lewiston, and became a US citizen in South Portland, Maine. His Maine wife divorced him because he wanted multiple wives. He was killed in Syria in 2014 and it’s worth mentioning that he also worked at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. Think about that next time you board a plane.
Last week’s Press Herald headline on Fazeli read: “Documents: Freeport man died fighting for Islamic State in Lebanon.” Was he a “Freeport man”? By whose definition? He was an Iranian who professed, at one time at least, a desire to become American. To be a “Freeport man” one must be an American. Nowhere in the article does it say Fazeli was a citizen. It said he became radicalized in Maine by watching ISIS videos and converting to Wahhabism, which the PPH called an “austere” version of Islam. That’s like calling the KKK an austere version of Christianity. Wahhabism is radical Islam. It’s jihadism calling for the destruction of the west. Maine State Police Detective George Loder said: “Fazeli’s change in behavior alienated him from many of his Shia and moderate Sunni friends in the area. However, there were a few local Sunnis who supported his [radical Islamist] fervor and treated him with a great deal of respect.”
The article said Fazeli was a “refugee” brought to Portland by Catholic Charities in 2009. He was born in Iran and raised a Shia Muslim, but “self-identified” as Arab and not “Iranian.” What a suspicious phrase that is. Was he born Persian, which is a different, majority-ethnic group in Iran? Faze also identified as a Sunni Muslim, a branch of Islam which comprises about 9% of Iran’s population, but he was afraid of being arrested so he “fled” to Syria, a puppet state of Iran where a civil war was raging between Sunnis and Shiites. How does that make sense? Syria would be the last place to go for “refuge.” Was he perhaps interested in joining Sunni terrorists like ISIS and al Qaida which were fighting the Shia in Syria?
Yasidi females -- former ISIS sex slaves
Then he “fled” Syria, arriving as a “refugee” in Philadelphia in 2009, and “came to the Portland area through Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigration Services,” according to the Press Herald. The article goes on to say: “Catholic Charities in Portland said Fazeli tried to receive social services [welfare] from the organization but was told that because he had come to Maine from another U.S. city after he’d immigrated to the U.S., he was not eligible…”
However, Fazeli did go on welfare along with his wife and three kids. This was reluctantly revealed in subsequent Press Herald article headlined: “LePage orders scrutiny of welfare benefits for immigrants in Maine… a reaction to the case of an Iranian refugee who... was killed fighting for the Islamic State in Lebanon in 2015.”
Interesting that he wasn’t a “Freeport man” anymore, but “an Iranian refugee.” Most illegal aliens sneaking into the country now ask for “asylum” as instructed by immigration lawyers — virtually all of whom are Democrats. Most "refugees" are not fleeing war-torn countries either. They come from the Middle East, Africa, Central America, and other places as economic migrants to get what Fazeli was getting. Only some are leaving Syria or Somalia, but media like the Portland Press Herald and the Sun Journal of Lewiston imply that all are genuine refugees from war-torn countries. The London Daily Mail reports that four out of five migrants to the EU in 2015, for example, were economic migrants looking for a better life, not refugees fleeing a war zone.
Soros and Hillary
This “refugee” migration is pushed by the Democrat Party as a recruitment drive. That’s why George Soros funds it so lavishly both here and in Europe according to recently-hacked documents from Soros’s “Open Society Foundation.” It's a scam to "fundamentally transform" the United States and the entire western world while getting the rest of us to pay for it.
How did we end up with two candidates most of us dislike? Well, we voted them in, that’s how. What does that say about us, the American people? That’s the essential question here. Hillary and the Donald reflect us — and we don’t like what we see. This year we tend not to ask “Who are you voting for?” so much as “Who are you voting against?”
Leaked emails confirm the Democrat National Committee steered the nomination toward Hillary and away from Sanders. They also confirm an incestuous relationship between Democrats and Mainstream Media. Both phenomena were long suspected but the emails are proof in black and white.
Republican leaders never hid their dismay as Trump won primaries. They maneuvered openly to deny him the nomination but failed. Trump got a record number of popular votes and won legitimately. Hillary also got more votes than her opponents, but Sanders supporters ask themselves if his momentum might have carried him past Hillary had the DNC had not covertly worked against him early on. We’ll never know.
Ordinary voters in both parties were dissatisfied with leadership, but only Republicans got a “change” candidate while Democrats got an old battle ax. Lately, however, Republicans feel buyer’s remorse as Trump repeatedly trips over his own tongue. Hillary has political experience and it shows. She is focused and on message as the general election campaign proceeds.
With zero experience, Trump is neither. Every day he gives the hostile mainstream media more arrows to shoot at him. While he bleeds in the polls, Republicans like Ted Cruz, Susan Collins, and Ben Sasse grab life jackets and jump ship. They’re not facing reelection this year but others are. Party leader Mitch McConnell said he’ll understand if they want to grab their life jackets and jump too.
Aside from refusing to release his tax returns, Trump is an open book. He eschews teleprompters and speaks his mind day after day. That novel approach appealed to voters in the primaries but it’s sinking him in the general. It’s still ten weeks to election day, and that’s an eternity in politics, but it’s not looking good for him. She sticks to script while he shoots from the lip.
Hillary has been caught in lie after lie, but the mainstream media virtually ignore them. Trump says dumb things almost every other day and they focus on him instead. Obama’s “Justice” Department protects Hillary too, but fears more email leaks showing the Clinton Family Foundation as more a money laundering operation and political slush fund than a charity. That could still sink her. If the electorate starts seeing her and Bill’s quarter million dollar “speaking fees” as bribes and payoffs, her polls could flip quickly. She’s a smooth and practiced liar as I personally witnessed last December when I had a 15-minute exchange with her. Lies roll off her tongue effortlessly and she’s been skating away from accountability for decades.
“The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t,” goes the idiom. We know what Hillary will do if she gets in so she would be the devil we know. We’re not sure what Trump would do. He’s been all over the political map during the past thirty years and it’s hard to tell, so he’s the devil we don’t know.
Trump, my least-favorite of the Republicans who ran, is one of the few candidates I didn’t get a chance to interview this election cycle. He says he’s pro-life, pro 2nd Amendment, wants to beef up the military and enforce immigration law — all good, but he used to think differently on some of those issues and has not explained why he changed. He never spoke of reducing the size of government either.
If you’ve ever said: “This is a free country and I can do what I want,” remember: that’s true only because of the Constitution — especially the Bill of Rights. Primarily, however, the Constitution is a document that says to government: “you have these powers only and no more.” It was designed to prevent the federal government from becoming the behemoth it is.
To preserve the Constitution at least, I plan to vote for Trump, the devil I don’t know.
Teaching US history to 14-year-olds could be frustrating. In Maine, as in most states, students took US History in 5th, 8th, and 11th grades. That latter was required for a high school diploma and I believe it still is, but none of it guarantees that those who graduate high school have even a cursory understanding of American history — or any other history for that matter. My frustration in 8th grade was the discrepancy in basic knowledge of history or geography with which students came to me. Most didn’t know a country from a continent. They could not point to Maine on a world map, nor did they have even a cursory understanding of what the United States even was.
The scope of my curriculum included US History from Indians to the present, weaving in geography, economics, civics, the US Constitution, and current events. I was prepared to deliver it, but after the first year I realized that most students had no framework of space (geography) and time (history) into which this material could be assimilated. Without such a structure, my students would not retain much. Some 5th grade teachers taught US History, but most did little more than cut out turkeys and Pilgrim hats at Thanksgiving. I had to fill huge gaps before delivering my course because without a mental framework of time and place, what I had to teach would go in one ear and out the other.
Because of an enrollment bulge one year, I had to give up two sections of history to other teachers and pick up a couple of writing classes instead. Though I gave one teacher the scope and sequence of my 20th century US history curriculum (the scope had narrowed by then), she taught nothing but slavery all year. That’s it. Students emerged from her classes knowing nothing else of US History but that black slavery was practiced here. I was appalled, but there was little I could do except bring it to the attention of administrators. I’ve since learned this was not usual. According to Assistant Professor Duke Pesta at the University of Wisconsin, it’s much more widespread than I ever realized. Pasta offers one telling anecdote:
I started giving quizzes to my juniors and seniors. I gave them a ten-question American history test... just to see where they are. The vast majority of my students - I'm talking nine out of ten, in every single class, for seven consecutive years — they have no idea that slavery existed anywhere in the world before the United States. Moses, Pharaoh, they know none of it. They're 100% convinced that slavery is a uniquely American invention... How do you give an adequate view of history and culture to kids when that's what they think of their own country - that America invented slavery? That's all they know.
Most Americans have no idea that Arab Muslims enslaved more than a million white, Christian Europeans between 1500 and 1700, and as many as 2.5 million more whites from the Black Sea region. Touring the Greek Gulf of Corinth in 2014, I asked our guide why all the villages were located up on steep hillsides instead of on the coastal plain, she said it was to escape Muslim slavers. Arab Muslims practiced black slavery long before and long after Europeans or Americans did and still enslave black Christians in Sudan.
Simon Deng - black Christian slave I met in 2010.
When my curriculum included US History from Indians to the present, I had students reenact pre-Civil War congressional slavery debates in class. Southern congressmen like John C. Calhoun were correct when arguing that slavery was approved in both the Old and New Testaments as well as in virtually every other culture throughout history. College students today, however, think slavery a uniquely American institution.
Consider what their misconception — that Americans invented slavery — does to their understanding of their own country. Consider that leftist professor control academia — and make sure students hear a continuous drumbeat about what an evil country this is — founded by evil, capitalist, white, racist men. It’s no wonder so many flock to Bernie Sanders rallies and support dubious organizations like Black Lives Matter. No wonder they’re so willing to believe that racist cops shot Michael Brown in the back while he had his hands up — which never happened. And, it’s getting worse. According to a report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA):
The overwhelming majority of America’s most prestigious institutions do not require even the students who major in history to take a single course on United States history or government. Disregard for the importance of United States history in the undergraduate history major is matched by the overall disappearance of United States history requirements from general education…
When ACTA commissioned a Roper survey of seniors at the "Top 50" colleges and universities, those holding the most prestigious positions in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, it found that only 29% could identify—in a multiple-choice survey—the definition of "Reconstruction.”
Don’t count on an informed electorate going into November.