I come from simple people, many with high school educations, some with less. I’m sure some of my Canadian great aunts and uncles would not have known English words like “civility.” But they came to the United States to assimilate, to work hard, to be good citizens. My father’s folks grew up on the streets of Lewiston, you might say. My grandparents still often spoke the Quebecois they learned first in the provinces as children in huge Catholic families. My grandfather, Lucien, was the city clerk of Lewiston for years and I, too, walked the streets with him. He seemed to know everyone. He spoke French and English to them, but never trash.
I have heard the “reasons” that Paul LePage and his assistants give for his speech: wanting to tell Obama to “go to hell,” telling the NAACP to kiss his butt. As much as Paul Lepage says he will not be hostage to special-interest groups, the reason given for his gaffes is basically that he comes from one. I was told, by my people from the streets of Lewiston, that we might be able to understand our current behavior by looking at our up-bringing. Yet, they added, once we become adults, we can no longer use our past as an excuse for our present actions. My hope is that in the future, Paul LePage will take a lesson from the many French Canadian-Americans who are also appalled by his talk. Never were we Francos allowed to speak with such disrespect.
Susan Lebel Young