Maine people were given yet another lesson last week in what sort of thinking our home-grown Thought Police will tolerate on the subject of immigration.
Here’s the lesson in a nutshell: under no circumstances will Big Brother and his minions permit anyone to connect the dots between the reality of a massive influx of foreigners across our southern border from poverty-stricken Third World countries, and the potential for outbreaks of contagious diseases here. Even asking about a possible connection between unchecked immigration and the spread of disease is a Thought Crime that will get you labeled as an irredeemable bigot, and banished from polite society.
Portland mayor Ethan Strimling played the role of prosecutor for this Orwellian exercise. The defendant was Waterville mayor Nick Isgro, who also serves as Vice Chairman of the Maine Republican Party.
Isgro’s alleged Thought Crime was committed on Twitter, where he had the audacity to say “we need a serious talk” about the record number of immigrants crossing the border, and the potential risk of them bringing contagious diseases with them. Isgro cited Portland in particular for its crisis of homelessness, driven by an unprecedented surge in the number of immigrants who have arrived there in the past year
Mayor Strimling took notice of Isgro’s heresy and immediately fired off an indignant text message to the Portland Press Herald, a reliably liberal media outlet Strimling knew could be counted on to amplify and echo his attack on Isgro. And that’s exactly what happened.
Strimling’s text message trashed Isgro’s comments as “disgusting and straight out of the anti-immigrant playbook.” The Press Herald followed up with an angry editorial excoriating Isgro for his “hateful tweets,” his “baseless, bigoted posts,” and his “disgusting statements.”
Within 24 hours of the tweets, the bandwagon effect kicked in, enticing others to pile on. It was a strange cast of characters, ranging from the Left’s online mob of cyber jackals to the entire GOP caucus in the state Senate.
Despite the barrage of insults and demands for his resignation as party Vice Chairman, Isgro held his ground, and punched back. He may be a condemned man in the eyes of the mob, and an object of hatred by the limousine liberals in Augusta and Portland, but he survived the ordeal of guilt by accusation. Not only did he survive, he triumphed, and may be more popular today than he was before Big Brother singled him out as a heretic.
And here’s why.
The facts are on Isgro’s side, and Mainers who have their eyes open and their common sense intact are perfectly capable of connecting the dots.
FACT: Portland has a city ordinance that forbids city employees from asking anyone about their immigration status, making the city Maine’s premiere “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants. Portland’s municipal social workers aren’t allowed to ask welfare applicants whether they’re in the country legally.
FACT: Portland’s homeless shelters are overrun with so-called “asylum seekers” from Third World countries. Officials in Texas were surprised to learn of Portland’s generous welfare programs for noncitizens, so Texas continues to send them our way from their own crowded, overflowing shelters. In fact, more than 90 percent of the residents in Portland’s family shelter are noncitizens. Mayor Strimling boasted that he’s proud of Portland: “Our issue isn’t that too many are coming here – it’s that we don’t have the housing to put them in.”
FACT: Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers say that more than two thousand illegal immigrants currently being held in ICE custody on the southern border are quarantined for exhibiting signs of infectious diseases, including the mumps.
FACT: Legal immigrants receive a medical exam. Proof of vaccination is mandatory for measles, mumps, rubella, polio, and other communicable diseases. Obviously, none of these screenings are carried out on people who enter this country illegally and undetected.
Given these facts, no rational Mainer who cares about public health and public safety can deny that we need a robust, wide-open, free-wheeling discussion about immigration and its impact on public health. Any attempt to shut down that debate, such as the media-driven campaign of character assassination waged against Nick Isgro, is dangerous and despicable.
Big Brother and his Thought Police be damned. Let the debate begin.
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Lawrence Lockman, R-Bradley, is serving his fourth term in the Maine House of Representatives. He is co-founder and president of the conservative nonprofit Maine First Project. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org