State legislators pen letter condemning anti-Semitism in Maine
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.
“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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