A local Maine House representative has come under fire for anti-Muslim sentiments that he has apparently shared on his personal Facebook page. Jeffrey Pierce, R-Dresden, represents House District 53. That district also encompasses Arrowsic, Georgetown, Phippsburg, Woolwich and part of Richmond.
The post on his personal page says that it’s “time to deport all Muslims.”
The post was still up as of Monday morning.
Efforts to reach Pierce on Friday and Saturday afternoon were unsuccessful.
The comments, which includes a graph denoting terrorist acts perpetrated by Islamic extremists in Paris, Boston, Ft. Hood, Texas, and other areas, also appears to call for looser gun control regulations.
The posting was condemned in a press release issued by House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe.
“We must not scapegoat entire religious faiths, cultures or ethnicities in the wake of national tragedy. But instead of bringing people together, we have yet another example of a Republican elected official in Maine contributing to an alarming trend of hate-mongering on social media,” said McCabe, D-Skowhegan. “We cannot allow Rep. Jeff Pierce’s call to deport all Muslims to stand. We must all join together against extremists, not play into their hands. Rep. Jeff Pierce must apologize, and the leaders of his caucus and his party must make clear whether they embrace or reject this bigotry.”
Rob Poindexter, communications director for the Maine House Republicans, said no formal statement from the House GOP would be forthcoming.
“We don’t typically comment on our members’ social media pages and accounts,” said Poindexter on Friday afternoon.
During a phone interview on Saturday afternoon, McCabe shared further thoughts on Pierce’s post.
“For me … it’s a simple fact that when we are elected officials, we have a duty to provide a level of leadership and … it’s not like we can turn off being a state rep and have a personal Facebook page,” he said. “The comments that we have influence citizens and at a time of a national tragedy, to promote hatred is just not appropriate.”
Over the weekend, state Rep. Joel Stetkis, R-Canaan, responded to McCabe’s press release via a Facebook post, stating that McCabe was on a “social media trolling expedition to demonize his political opponents” and that “politicians who continue to engage in political correctness at the cost of safety to our citizens is wrong and should not be tolerated.”
During Saturday’s interview, McCabe also referred to a comment on Stetkis’s post that observed the similarity between the present-day issue and the Japanese internment during WWII.
“You have to look at the history of this country,” McCabe said on Saturday. “And you have to look and you have to say, we are better than that, we will learn from our history and not repeat history.
“Whether we come from rural Maine or urban Maine, we have a duty to educate ourselves,” he also urged.
Pierce is not the first member of the Legislature to come under fire for social media posts related to Islam.
In October, John Picchioti, R-Fairfield, apologized for anti-Muslim remarks on his personal Facebook page, calling it an “oversight” on his part for not reading an entire email message before posting it.
In March, state Sen. Michael Willette, R-Presque Isle, apologized for a post that jokingly suggested President Barack Obama has family members in the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group.
Asked Friday if there would be any plans to address anti-Islamic rhetoric by House members, Poindexter said: “We actually haven’t discussed anything along those lines, yet. We don’t really have any comment on that.”
Pierce is serving his first term. He is the House Republican lead on the Marine Resources Committee for the 127th Legislature, according to his House bio. He also served as the chairman of the Dresden Planning Board. “He’s proud to be a Master Mason and former director of the Maine Elver Fisherman’s Association,” according to his bio.