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State legislators pen letter condemning anti-Semitism in Maine

A group of Maine lawmakers are condemning the participation of a state Representative in an...
A group of Maine lawmakers are condemning the participation of a state Representative in an event hosted by a man who has made several anti-Semitic claims.(Gray tv)
Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 7:35 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - A group of Maine lawmakers are condemning the participation of a state Representative in an event hosted by a man who has made several anti-Semitic claims.

53 members of the Legislature signed on to a letter condemning Rep. Heidi Sampson (R-Alfred) for speaking at the event in Belfast on July 27.

It was co-organized by Robert David Steele, who the group describes as a “known anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist.”

They say Steele has made claims such as calling “elite Jews” responsible for the Holocaust and writing that Zionists funded 9/11, that they “control the American media,” and that Zionists belong to the “Synagogue of Satan.”

The event, part of the “Arise USA! Resurrection Tour,” featured several other controversial speakers, some of whom are known for their lauding of Holocaust deniers and embracing of conspiracy theories.

The full letter from the legislators is below.

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“We, members of the 130th Legislature who are concerned about the impact of hateful rhetoric, are condemning Rep. Heidi Sampson’s participation in the event co-organized by Robert David Steele, a known anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist, held in Belfast on Tuesday, July 27.

Jews are a minority community in the U.S. Anti-Semitism is an ideology that uses baseless conspiracy theories to spread fear of Jewish people. Eric Ward, Executive Director of the Western States Center, points out that modern anti-Semitic ideology traffics in fantasies of Jews as the driving force of white dispossession.

The Bangor Daily News described Robert David Steele as peddling the same anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that have been used through history in vicious campaigns against Jewish people, but with new twists. Steele claims that Jews are responsible for the Holocaust and “satanic Zionists” kidnap children and are engaged in a plot against white people.

This anti-Semitic rhetoric is not only categorically false, it is directly threatening to the safety, dignity and well-being of all Jewish people in Maine. Last year, anti-Semitic incidents remained at a historically high level across the U.S. with a total of 2,024 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism. Although the population of Jews here is small, Maine has also seen an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents in recent years.

Across the country and in our state, those who perpetrate hate crimes are being emboldened by the type of anti-Semitic rhetoric used by Steele. By being a speaker at this event, Rep. Sampson has given the legitimacy of her elected office to Steele’s hateful and false claims that threaten Jewish families, individuals and institutions in Maine.

The Bangor Daily News recently reported on the July 27 event, highlighting the growing tide of extremism in Maine. Our state has a long history of extremist activity, including hosting the first Ku Klux Klan event in New England. However, what sets recent events apart is the involvement of elected officials and their de-facto sanctioning of extremist groups that pose a fundamental threat to our democracy.

As members of the Legislature, we stand against anti-Semitism in Maine and condemn Rep. Sampson’s participation in the event.”

It was signed by the following:

Laurie Osher - State Representative

Troy Jackson - Senate President

Ryan Fecteau - Speaker of the House

Eloise Vitelli - Senate Majority Leader

Mattie Daughtry - Assistant Senate Majority Leader

Michelle Dunphy - House Majority Leader

Rachel Talbot Ross - Assistant House Majority Leader

Anne Carney - State Senator

Heather Sanborn - State Senator

Ned Claxton - State Senator

Allison Hepler - State Representative

Amy Roeder - State Representative

Ann Matlack - State Representative

Arthur Bell - State Representative

Barb Wood - State Representative

Colleen Madigan - State Representative

David McCrea - State Representative

Denise Tepler - State Representative

Erin Sheehan - State Representative

Genevieve McDonald - State Representative

Grayson Lookner - State Representative

Heidi Brooks - State Representative

Holly Stover - State Representative

Jan Dodge - State Representative

Jay McCreight - State Representative

Jeffrey Evangelos - State Representative

Kevin O’Connell - State Representative

Kristi Mathieson - State Representative

Kyle Bailey - State Representative

Laura Supica - State Representative

Lois Galgay Reckitt - State Representative

Lynn Copeland - State Representative

Lynne Williams - State Representative

Margaret Craven - State Representative

Maureen Terry - State Representative

Melanie Sachs - State Representative

Michele Meyer - State Representative

Morgan Rielly - State Representative

Nicole Grohoski - State Representative

Paige Zeigler - State Representative

Patricia Hymanson - State Representative

Rebecca Millett - State Representative

Sarah Pebworth - State Representative

Scott Cuddy - State Representative

Seth Berry - State Representative

Steve Moriarty - State Representative

Suzanne Salisbury - State Representative

Tavis Hasenfus - State Representative

Thom Harnett - State Representative

Tiffany Roberts - State Representative

Traci Gere State - Representative

Valli Geiger - State Representative

Vicki Doudera - State Representative

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