Maine lawmakers release letter denouncing anti-Semitism

Letter comes after a state representative is accused of speaking at an event blamed for spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Dan Verbin ,

Definition of anti-Semitism
Definition of anti-Semitism

A group of Maine legislators denounced the appearance by a state representative at an event organized by a man they described as a “known anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist.”

The group – consisting of 53 state lawmakers – represents approximately one third of the Maine Legislature. They wrote a letter harshly criticizing Rep. Heidi Sampson’s for speaking at the event that took place on July 27 in Belfast, Maine, reported WABI 5.

Their letter stated: “We, members of the 130th Legislature who are concerned about the impact of hateful rhetoric, are condemning Rep. Heidi Sampson’s participation in the event co-organized by Robert David Steele, a known anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist, held in Belfast on Tuesday, July 27.”

It continued, “The Bangor Daily News described Robert David Steele as peddling the same anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that have been used through history in vicious campaigns against Jewish people, but with new twists. Steele claims that Jews are responsible for the Holocaust and ‘satanic Zionists’ kidnap children and are engaged in a plot against white people.”

They described anti-Semitic rhetoric as “directly threatening to the safety, dignity and well-being of all Jewish people in Maine” and noted that in 2020 anti-Semitic incidents across the US were at a historic high, with 2,024 reported cases of assault, harassment and vandalism.

“Across the country and in our state, those who perpetrate hate crimes are being emboldened by the type of anti-Semitic rhetoric used by Steele. By being a speaker at this event, Rep. Sampson has given the legitimacy of her elected office to Steele’s hateful and false claims that threaten Jewish families, individuals and institutions in Maine,” the lawmakers said.

They concluded: “The Bangor Daily News recently reported on the July 27 event, highlighting the growing tide of extremism in Maine. Our state has a long history of extremist activity, including hosting the first Ku Klux Klan event in New England. However, what sets recent events apart is the involvement of elected officials and their de-facto sanctioning of extremist groups that pose a fundamental threat to our democracy.”

They added that “as members of the Legislature, we stand against anti-Semitism in Maine and condemn Rep. Sampson’s participation in the event.”