Not many people have heard of Jackman, a small Maine town of fewer than 1,000 people not far from the Canadian border.
That was until this week, when media outlets began publishing stories about Jackman’s town manager, a 37-year-old transplant from Arizona who seemed unequivocal about his views that Islam has no place in the Western world and, as he told the Bangor Daily News, that Americans would be better off if people of different races “voluntarily separate.”
Tom Kawczynski told the Bangor paper that he’s against bringing people from other countries and cultures to the United States. He also said he is not racist and argued that one can be “pro-white” without harboring hate against people of other races. After he moved to Maine a year ago, he started a group called New Albion, which, according to its website, promotes “traditional western values emphasizing the positive aspects of our European heritage and uniquely American identity.”
Kawczynski’s views have since been met with backlash. In a statement posted on Facebook on Saturday, the Jackman-Moose River Region Chamber of Commerce called the town manager’s views “shocking and offensive” and said employees like Kawczynski are not asked about their religion or views on race and politics during job interviews.
“The Jackman, Maine community do not share his views and call on the town selectmen to do what is needed,” the Chamber of Commerce said, referring to Jackman’s town officials.
Kawczynski declined to be interviewed Sunday, but in posts on his website and on Gab, a social media network that is used by right-wing figures, he defended his views and free-speech rights. He railed against political correctness and the media, which he accused of publishing skewed versions of his views and falsely painting him as a racist and a bigot.
“Take five things you say that sound terrible, remove them from context as much as possible, and paint a picture of a person’s life designed to make people hate and defame you. That’s what was done to me personally today and to New Albion as a whole,” Kawczynski wrote on his website Friday. “I separate my personal cultural ambitions from my professional career, but some people are trying to use my efforts to promote certain ideas to destroy my ability to provide for myself and my wife.”
His mistake, he said, was saying that white people should be proud of their heritage — and because of that, “there are those who would destroy me.”
“Never mind the inconvenient fact that I’ve never said a cross word about any minority, and I think ALL people should be proud of their heritage and backgrounds,” he wrote. “That wasn’t fit to print.”
In another post about his comments on the “voluntary separation” of races, Kawczynski argued that modern-day examples of segregation are viewed as acceptable by the political left. One example he cited are historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, institutions that were created at a time of immense segregation in the country, when black students were largely denied admission to traditionally white schools.
Kawczynski argued that HBCUs give special consideration to one minority group at the expense of the majority. “If you tried to have white only universities, it would be considered apostasy, yet there that right only is reserved for some minorities,” he wrote.
HBCUs, though, are not black-only schools. Although they were created for the education of black people, nonblack students accounted for 22 percent of enrollment at HBCUs in 2015 — up from 15 percent in 1976, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That includes white students. Take Howard University in Washington, D.C., for example.
In one post on Gab, Kawczynski seems to be already anticipating losing his job as a result of the backlash and said he had set up a GoFundMe page to temporarily support him and his wife. He also told the Portland Press Herald that he has no plans to resign from his job.
Town officials in Jackman, where nearly all residents are white, have yet to make any public statements about Kawczynski, but some have told local media outlets that they have contacted the town’s attorney to figure out the next steps.
The Washington Post was unable to reach Warren Shay, the town attorney, on Sunday, but he told the Associated Press that town leaders will meet with Kawczynski on Tuesday to discuss the comments he made to media outlets.
“The beliefs reflected in those comments are not shared by any of the select persons or the Town of Jackman,” Shay said.
Kawczynski doesn’t consider himself a Republican or a Democrat, he told the Portland Press Herald, although he said he voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. In 2015, he was appointed town chair for Trump, then a front runner for the Republican nomination, in Grafton County in New Hampshire.