Courtesy "hot feminists."
Courtesy "hot feminists."
A few weeks ago I discovered that Tom Kawczynski, the town manager of Jackman, was promoting neo-Nazi ideology and trying to organize a white ethno-state in Maine called “New Albion.” For years I’ve kept tabs on local white supremacist groups, but they really started coming out of the woodwork after President Trump launched his campaign with an attack on Mexican immigrants and Muslims. Suddenly, the “Overton window” — the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse — shifted dramatically, and anonymous local alt-right blogs and certain Maine Republican Party social media accounts began openly attacking Muslims and African refugees without fear of a public backlash. It was only a matter of time before the hardcore white supremacists began shedding their anonymity to organize out in the open.

I became aware of Kawczynski’s work after I noticed that a neo-Nazi named Russell James from Washington County (by way of Massachusetts) expressed support for New Albion on Twitter.

“An idea whose time has come,” wrote James, who runs a neo-Nazi website. “New Albion is a movement to restore the culture, heritage, and identity of the people of New England. I can’t think of a more worthwhile project.”

His feed included several anti-Semitic screeds accusing Jewish people of being behind “White genocide” — a far-right conspiracy theory alleging that the government is promoting mass immigration, racial integration and low fertility rates in order to force white people to go extinct through forced assimilation. He often posts the “14 Words” white power slogan coined by the notorious white supremacist David Lane, who drove the getaway car for the murderers of Jewish radio host Alan Berg in 1984.

In fact, James reported that he was having a meeting with Kawczynski in Bangor while Maine Public Radio was interviewing the Jackman town manager about the controversy by phone last Friday. Kawczynski also found some support from some national figures in the white power movement. Back in December, the notorious neo-Nazi Billy Roper wrote on his blog that “overwhelmingly White areas of upper New England make a natural ethnostate seedbed” and that “New Albion is organizing for the future which we all see coming, in post-Balkanization America.”

So last Friday morning, after my friend and writer Crash Barry helped me confirm that the founder of the site really was Tom Kawczynski, we posted that information on social media. By that night, the story made national news headlines. This Tuesday, January 23, the town selectmen voted 4-0 to dismiss Kawczynski and pay him a $30,000 settlement to avoid a lawsuit.

But the fight isn’t over when it comes to confronting hate groups in Maine and we all need to stay vigilant.

Maine Becomes a Target for Hate Groups

It’s been disappointing that most press reports have failed to mention Kawczynski’s connections to neo-Nazi groups. But that’s understandable because the Arizona native and former Trump campaign town chairman was very careful to cloak his grotesque theories in his coded language of “pragmatic ethno-nationalism” to reach a mainstream audience. In multiple interviews with news outlets, he vehemently denied being a racist, a neo-Nazi or even a white separatist. In fact, many of his remarks read like what passes for mainstream conservative rhetoric these days. In his online posts, he argued that his group is just a “cultural organization” that is only about “defending the people and culture of New England” and “opposing Islam as being anti-Western.”

“New Albion really is about unity,” wrote Kawczynski last weekend on the alt-right social media site GAB. “Diversity has been treated as a positive end unto itself, but is it really when people with such different ideas live next to each other and no longer agree?”

But he also once posted a meme featuring a Nazi officer in front of a Jew wearing a star of David and the caption, “Great Job. You’re getting a gold star.” Just days before the media firestorm, a GAB user named “Odin Valhalla,” who featured swastikas and skulls on his handle, expressed interest in participating in New Albion. To which Kawczynski replied,“You’ll be welcome.”

In another post, Kawczynski made a reference to the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust: “If #NewAlbion magically came into being today with the borders we imagine, we almost exactly would have 6 million people. Is it a sign? #irony.” Kawczynski wrote that his ideal form of government is “one central authority figure who handled certain discrete issues: Borders, defense, culture, and education.”

His wife Dana, who also attempted to organize for New Albion on an alt-right Facebook page run out of Waldo County, wasn’t shy about posting numerous pro-Hitler iconography and racist comments. She once said Jews “masquerade as whites to virtue signal to the blacks & minorities to undermine us all.” And last month she posted a digital Christmas card featuring a photo of the Führer and the caption “We’re having a white Christmas up here in Maine!”

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the New Albion story is that Kawczynski, a man in a position of power and authority, felt comfortable enough to use his real name as he worked to organize a white supremacist movement in rural Maine. As he once wrote, “True villains are those who hide their presence.” He had plans for a rally, monthly meetings in Waterville and New Hampshire, a folk festival and even a lecture tour of the local college circuit. He claimed New Albion had 100 members.

“Our network is growing on the ground, especially amongst homesteaders and families who value self-sufficiency,” he wrote last week. “We’re working to gain a foothold in local news and radio as goals. Plus, we’re one big step closer to realizing our big event to promote our western heritage and people this Fall.”

Of course it’s hard to know how much support he really had, but whether Kawczynski really had a following is irrelevant. He is just one of many white nationalists who have felt safe enough to come out in the open in Maine. And why shouldn’t they? When the governor declared that people of color are “the enemy,” his own party in the Maine Legislature refused to stand up to him even as white supremacist leaders like David Duke rallied to his defense. White nationalist House member Larry Lockman (R-Amherst) all but accused Sen. Roger Katz (R-Augusta) of committing white genocide when he said Katz, who happens to be Jewish, “is ashamed that we’re so white, and wants taxpayers to pay for importing and training non-whites with higher fertility rates.” Yet mainstream media stories describe Lockman as a “firebrand” and a “bomb thrower,” rather than calling him what he really is.

Meanwhile, Kawczynski is hoping to become a martyr for “free speech” and has declared himself a “White Civil Rights” leader. But despite support from famous Nazis like Billy Roper and Chris Cantwell (the “Crying Nazi” of Charlottesville fame), by Wednesday afternoon the New Albion founder had raised a mere $320 from his crowdfunding effort. And for those who worry that reporting on white supremacists is somehow empowering them by giving them a platform, even the neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin of the website Daily Stormer knows his side lost this battle.

“Okay, guys. We need to tighten-up this ship,” wrote Anglin in response to the Jackman controversy. “If you’re in politics, and you want to go to higher levels of politics, you can’t say you’re a white separatist. Not yet, at least.… I know most of you guys are not saying this stuff. But this guy is going to get run-out by the kikes and that is bad, so it’s good to look at this as a lesson. I know tons of you are in local government, and you just need to remember to chill. Keep your social media scrubbed clean. Our time is coming soon, but it isn’t our time yet.”

The people of Jackman deserve praise for showing Kawczynski the door, and we should be very proud that Mainers stood up and said Maine will not be a haven for this hateful ideology. However, we still have a lot of work to do in educating each other about the value of all humans regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or other differences. It’s going to be a slog, but I do believe we will overcome the forces of bigotry and intolerance spreading in our society and controlling the levers of power. #JackmanStrong.