Casco official should resign over e-mail

The terms "closet racist" and "public official" should never be synonymous in Maine.

That's why Casco Selectman Barbara York should resign after revelations Wednesday that she forwarded a racist joke and photos comparing Michelle Obama to a chimpanzee to other town residents from her private e-mail account.

The Portland Press Herald reported Thursday that a small group of town residents confronted York and other selectmen Tuesday night at the board's regular meeting.

Mary-Vienessa Fernandes, a Casco resident of African-American descent, told the board that she found a printed copy of York's e-mail taped to her door, and that she found it racist and degrading.

Another African-American resident, Antonio Jackson, said he was "trembling all over" after seeing the cartoon, and that he "couldn't believe that something like that was happening in 2010," according to the Press Herald.

Dehumanizing people for their differences — whether they be ethnic, religious or racial — has been the bigot's tool for centuries. There is a long and sordid history of blacks in America being portrayed as apes, baboons, gorillas and chimps.

The images have been used since slavery to stir fear in white people or to make African-Americans appear less intelligent.

Last February, the New York Post ran a cartoon showing police officers with smoking guns standing over a marauding chimpanzee they had just shot dead. "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," said the caption.

The cartoon was loosely tied to a story two days before about a violent chimp gunned down by police in Stamford, Conn., but the dead monkey on the ground was definitely meant to be the president of the United States.

The Post later apologized for the cartoon.

As Americans, we should encourage a vigorous public debate, and there is no doubt that partisan hostility is running high since the election of our first African-American president, Barack Obama.

That rancor came to a boiling point recently when Democrats in the U.S. House passed health care reform over vocal Republican opposition.

In several ugly incidents, racial slurs were hurled at black members of Congress and one black member was spat upon on the steps of the Capitol.

Several members of Congress had their district offices vandalized, and a propane gas line was cut at a home mistakenly reported to belong to a congressman who voted for the health care bill.

At least 10 members of Congress received threatening phone calls.

To their credit, Republican congressional leaders have denounced these acts.  And, to be fair, they have been committed by a very slim minority of protesters.

Yet, as the Casco incident shows, bigotry exists everywhere, even in Maine, and it is up to right-minded Mainers to denounce it at every turn.

While no one, including Jackson, can prevent an offensive e-mail from showing up in their inbox, we all have a choice about how we respond — either delete that e-mail or give it our tacit approval by forwarding it to others.

York made her choice, and she now must live with the consequences.

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PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The Pirate and the parrot

The Pirate and the parrot both agree on this one. Haven't read the joke,  but as you articulately stated, " we need better judgment from elected officials."


Mr.XYZ are you assuming MS

Mr.XYZ are you assuming MS York is a Republican? May I ask why you would make such an assumption? It was a very foolish thing to do in these times, but we do have to loosen up on these incidents. Incidently, she may well be a Democrat or Independdent.

As far as the backlash the health care bill has brought out, is it so much against the bill itself or the way that Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Reid and their Democrat co-horts went about in drawing up this bill and advancing it behind closed doors and with all the special favors doled out to buy the votes for passage. I would be equally offended and up in arms were this monstrosity drawn up by Republicans. This bill is so large (volume of words in it) that there is room for many unknowns in there that combined with previously referenced way it was written many citizens are wary of it and would like to see it abolished or withdrawn and the process started again. This time, no back room deals, no secrecy, just a plain old public discussion on it and move on. The many secrets and parliamentary actions used by the party in control killed the average citizen's desire for this bill. Its too bad as the Democrats lost a very good chance to have come out of this smelling like a rose instead of feeling like a thorny  dead rose bush.

RONALD RIML's picture


What about all the cartoons portraying President Bush as an 'Ape?'


He wasn't Black?  Damn......... 


PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Veritas, as if often the

Veritas, as if often the case, presents a compelling argument in this matter.

 's picture

racist, really???

Just because someone sends out a cartoon in an email does not make that person a racist.  Just like some people find Family Guy funny and others are offended.   Relax a little, its just a joke.  Lets not become like the muslims who want to kill over cartoons.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Sound pretty angry for

Sound pretty angry for someone who just had "free" medical insurance handed to him at taxpayers' expense.


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