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Maine governor offers U.S. Rep. John Lewis an erroneous history lesson

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage, right, and House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, attended the Dec. 19 Electoral College vote at the State House in Augusta, Maine. The Republican governor today addressed Lewis’ criticism that GOP President-elect Donald Trump is not a “legitimate president.”

AUGUSTA, Maine >> Republican Gov. Paul LePage today offered an erroneous history lesson about racial segregation to a black Georgia congressman who risked his life to fight for civil rights, and he called on the NAACP to apologize to white people.

Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who was beaten while marching in Selma, Alabama, with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., should be grateful to Republican presidents and shouldn’t question the legitimacy of GOP President-elect Donald Trump’s victory, LePage said.

“You know, I will just say this: John Lewis ought to look at history,” LePage, who’s white, said on WVOM-FM. “You It was Abraham Lincoln that freed the slaves. It was Rutherford B. Hayes and Ulysses S. Grant that fought against Jim Crow laws. A simple thank you would suffice.”

Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and pushed for the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery. But historians say LePage is wrong about Jim Crow laws, which legalized racial segregation.

Jim Crow laws didn’t exist during the Grant administration and an electoral deal that put Hayes in office led to the end of Reconstruction and the removal of federal troops, setting the stage for the creation of Jim Crow laws that followed, said Colby professor Dan Shea.

“Paul LePage is going to give John Lewis a tutorial on the history of black oppression in the United States? That’s rich,” Shea said.

LePage’s criticism of Lewis comes on the heels of Lewis’ comments last week that he would not attend Trump’s inauguration.

“You know, I believe in forgiveness. I believe in trying to work with people. It will be hard. It’s going to be very difficult. I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president,” Lewis said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that aired Sunday.

Lewis’ spokeswoman said today that the facts of history refute LePage’s statements about the Jim Crow laws.

Later in the afternoon, the governor tried to clarify his remarks to the Portland Press Herald by saying he felt all white people were being lumped together. He said that the “NAACP should apologize to the white people, to the people from the North for fighting their battle.”

The governor also said that “the blacks, the NAACP” paint white people with one brush and added that “to say every white America is a racist is an insult.” The governor has said a racist “is the absolute worst, most vile thing you can call a person” and last summer left an expletive-laced voicemail for a Democratic legislator that he thought called him a racist.

LePage said he knows many Maine families who had ancestors who fought in the Civil War. Maine, the nation’s whitest state, is 95 percent white, according to 2015 census estimates.

The head of the Portland branch of the NAACP says it’s unfortunate that LePage tried to revise history and disparage a civil rights leader a day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

LePage today also had harsh words for a Maine congresswoman who is among more than 40 House Democrats so far to say they are skipping Trump’s inauguration. He said Rep. Chellie Pingree should resign if she doesn’t attend.

“They’re trying to bully us out of believing our Constitution,” LePage said of Democrats.

Pingree said Monday that “President-elect Trump’s actions go beyond any kind of reasonable debate—they threaten the constitutional values our country is based on.”

Pingree’s office today called LePage’s remarks about Lewis divisive and inaccurate.

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        • Bet you are proud Hussein commuted the traitor’s sentence. Snowden and Clinton next. Aiding and abetting criminals to add to his long list of failures. No wonder you and Allie are swamp critters.

      • What’s the big deal, plaba? This is the guy who, when he took office in 2011, refused to attend any mlk day events. He also blamed maine’s heroin problem on blacks and hispanics from connecticut and new york who “come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave.” He also kept a binder of news clippings and mug shots of drug suspects from out of state and claimed that 93% were black or hispanics. When he was forced by a lawsuit to reveal his binder, no more than a third of the suspects were black or hispanic. In addition, official statistics showed that the overwhelming majority of those arrested in maine for drug offenses were white. Sounds an awful like another truth-challenged guy who is soon taking office.

  • Why doesn’t this article correct Lewis who also got history “wrong.” He said Trump’s will be the first inauguration that he’s missed. Not true. He didn’t go to George Bush’s inauguration either, and also claimed Bush was not legitimately elected. Our schools just don’t teach history very well and Mr. Lewis can’t remember things that he’s done. Pretty sad.

    • Bush became President when the Supreme Court, assuming powers that are nowhere in the Constitution, stopped the vote count and declared Bush the winner.

      • Not quite.

        There had been two recounts, which Bush won.

        Gore wanted a further recount in selected counties in which he expected to have an advantage
        Time ran out.

        • Not quite. George Bush received 50,456,062 votes and Al Gore received 50,996,582 votes.

          With regard to Florida, the Supreme Court decided that time ran out. There was no statutory limit. They invented it where no law existed.

    • That’s because he was cracked on his head. Should resign. Funny, never heard of him but maybe because Sharpton, Jackson and others hogged all the publicity over the slaying.

      • Yes, of course. What could be more funny than having a fractured skull while protesting so folks can vote? That sure is funny! Do you write these comments from prison?

        What would the day be without you dragging out Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson? You really need to pick some new blacks folks to rail against.

        The fact that you never head of John Lewis shows the shocking and remarkable depth of your ignorance. How could you have completed high school without learning about him? Oh … unless you didn’t graduate. That explains it!

        • Who is John Lewis? Ask 50 people on the street who he is and maybe on a good day 5 or 6 may know who he is. Do you reside on this planet or has Donald Trump messed up your mind?

        • sarge22 – You’re right. I don’t associate with people who know nothing and never learned history. Thankfully, all of our friends and my business associates have educations and know something.

          You don’t. I need to keep remembering that.

  • This is what I mean about Term Limits. In their Old age it comes to a point that their thinking is beyond the realms of reality. They start to say foolish things and forget the real reasons they are there in the first place.To Serve The People! Not serve your partys’ political agendas.
    Democrat Libs like Sen. John Lewis,without thinking first lashes out at PE Trump,but when President Trump retaliates. It’s like Trump owes him an apology? Are you kidding me? Trump didn’t start it,he did!
    President Trump is Spot ON Correct ,Sen. Lewis should concentrate and focus on the issues plaguing his own state. IMUA

    • Mr. Trump has the discipline of a spoiled 13 year-old. He is pathologically unable to remain in control when faced with the slightest upset to his most marvelous greatness. If he had a normal, adult brain, he would have controlled himself instead of tweeting a completely insane comment about Mr. Lewis.

      I know you don’t understand much, but you should be able to understand that Mr. Trump is a psychotic. He cannot control himself for a single day. That’s why his approval ratings are already collapsing, and so few people will be in DC for his inauguration.

      He’s a laughingstock.

      Trump can bluster all he wants, but nothing will ever erase the stain of his cowardice in avoiding military service. Never. He was and is a coward. He ran away.

      • klastri is the laughingstock. Making up stories because he took a severe beating. Not really that bad since he took second place. Trump this Trump that,,,blagh blagh blagh.

      • Your definition of “cowardice in avoiding military service” seems to have left out some other politicians. These include Joe Biden (claimed asthma at 15 and received5 deferments); Bill Clinton (sought several deferments and used his uncle’s influence); and Bernie Sanders (who claimed to be a pacifist but later tried to become Commander in Chief). Trump never ran away, he was registered and received deferments as well. Your comments are shallow.

  • REP. John Lewis is an embarrassment to the African American people. How quickly he forgets, while marching on that bridge in Selma, Alabama with MLK it was the Democrats who ran over him, beat him and kicked his head in. What he does next is appalling, he abandons the cause of MLK and joins the Democratic party and starts suppressing the African American people all for his own personal gain. John Lewis could care less about the African American on the other hand President Trump is offering them hope in the form of Jobs, housing, and independence the days of holding the African American hostage in poverty is coming to an end and the Democratic party will do everything in their power to stop it.

  • Hey LePage, you’re a vile expletive-laden racist and white supremacist. And I hope you take a nice vacation out here so we can discuss it man to man. I’d love to have you for dinner.

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