'I love all people, but I do love white people': Town manager who wanted races to separate is fired
The manager of a Maine town of fewer than 1,000 people was fired Tuesday after his white separatist remarks sparked outrage.
Tom Kawczynski, 37, put Jackman on the map when media outlets across the country began publishing stories about his seemingly unequivocal views that Islam has no place in the Western world, and that Americans would be better off if people of different races "voluntarily separate," according to the Bangor Daily News. Kawczynski, who moved to Jackman from Arizona a year ago, also told the Bangor paper that he opposes bringing people from other countries and cultures to the United States.
The town manager's comments were met with backlash over the weekend: The Jackman-Moose River Region Chamber of Commerce in a statement on Facebook called Kawczynski's remarks "shocking and offensive." Town officials in Jackman, where nearly all residents are white, remained mostly quiet about the incident until Tuesday morning, when, after a closed-door executive session with Kawczynski, selectmen decided to terminate his employment - and agreed to pay him an additional $30,000 severance so that he would not sue the town, according to the Associated Press. He was paid $49,000 annually.
His termination could raise questions about whether towns and corporations can dismiss employees for offensive speech, which is protected by the Constitution. A former Google engineer was fired for questioning the company's diversity policy, for example, claiming that Google discriminates against white men and conservatives.
Kawczynski told reporters after his firing that he is "not a racist, a bigot, a Nazi or any of the other foul names that have been attributed to me or my wife." He blamed his termination on the media's scrutiny of his comments - which he said were mischaracterized - and affirmed his constitutional right to freedom of expression. He added that he does not bear any hate toward people of other races, but wants to advocate for "white civil rights."
"With respect to the comments that caused this that I made about Islam, I would only say I do have serious questions about that, and I hope what happens to me starts some conversation," he said.
"I hate no race and I love all people. But I do love white people, and I love white people as white people, because it is my firm belief that we should have the same rights . . . as every other group out there in America today," he said.
After he moved to Maine a year ago, Kawczynski 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."
In a post on the website 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.
But HBCUs are not black-only schools. Although they were created for the education of black people at a time when the majority of colleges and universities prevented minorities from enrolling, 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, for example.
The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a tweet Tuesday that it recently became aware of the group, and that it is "unacceptable to see people in leadership positions espousing white nationalist views."
Kawczynski defended the group Tuesday, called it a "cultural movement" that is "open to all ethnicity, all races."
"I lost a job today but I gained a cause," he said. "And I am not going to stop this fight. I am not quitting."
Kawczynski and town attorney Warren Shay could not be immediately reached by The Washington Post for comment.
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.
He set up a GoFundMe page to support himself and his wife before he was fired in anticipation that he would be terminated.
Authors Information: Marwa Eltagouri is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. Kristine Phillips is a member of The Post's general assignment team.