Bob Macdonald, the mayor of Lewiston, Maine, is attracting national attention after appearing in a BBC documentary and demanding that the Somali immigrants who live in his town “leave your culture at the door.” Lewiston has become a haven for Somali immigrants who have fled their war-torn and poverty stricken nation. In the BBC documentary, which aired September 11, Macdonald said:
When you come here you accept our culture and leave your culture at the door. I don’t care if you’re white, you’re black, you’re yellow. I don’t care what color you are, when you come into the country, you have to accept our culture. Don’t try to insert your culture into ours.
The comments sparked outrage among the Somali community, but when Macdonald was asked to explain them, he went even further, telling them to go back to Somalia and accusing them of “shirking [their] duties” to their country:
When anybody comes here from any country, they have to embrace our culture. Now, do they have to give up their own culture at home? No. If they want to carry on you know, the Irish St. Patrick’s Day, the French, the Italians, everybody, they all keep their culture, but we all practice a unique culture, and that is an American culture that over 200 years has been developed…Why aren’t you over there fighting for it? If you believe in it so much, why aren’t you over there shedding your blood to get it? Why are you over here shirking your duties? These people are yelling that I’m insensitive to their culture. Well if it’s so great, why aren’t they back over in Somalia? Why are they over here?
The mayor also writes a regular column in the Twin City Times, in which he recently called citizens who want to improve treatment of Somalis in the town “white do-gooders and their carpetbagger friends.”
Macdonald became the mayor of Lewiston after his Democratic opponent, Mark Paradis, died suddenly from pneumonia shortly before the election. After Macdonald won by just seven votes against the deceased candidate, he accused the opposing campaign of smearing him, warning, “I just won, so I don’t have to be quiet anymore. They are going to pay for this.”