Getty

If you thought President-elect Donald Trump had an absolute monopoly on "profoundly stupid things to say about civil rights icon and American hero John Lewis," well, buddy, think again.

On Tuesday, Maine's Republican governor Paul LePage insisted that Lewis–the longtime Georgia congressman whose recent comments that Donald Trump was not a "legitimate president" have ignited a firestorm of controversy in the days leading up to Trump's inauguration—should be thanking a whole gaggle of Republican white people instead.

Advertisement

"I will just say this: John Lewis ought to look at history,” LePage told talk hosts George Hale and Ric Tyler during a call-in to Maine's WVOM radio station. “It was Abraham Lincoln who freed the slaves, it was Rutherford B. Hayes and Ulysses S. Grant who fought against Jim Crow laws."

"A simple thank you would suffice," LePage concluded.

Lewis, now in his mid-70s, was beaten bloody by Alabama state troopers while participating in the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches of 1965. He still bears visible scars from the attack.

Advertisement

Nevertheless, for noted white guy LePage, Lewis owes thanks to American history's other noted white guys, without whom, LePage insists, Lewis might still be…what? A slave?

Also, if I may put on my "Extremely Widely Known Facts About American History" hat…the Republicans of the 19th century would most likely be Democrats (and beyond) now, and vice versa, because the parties completely changed their ideologies in the mid-20th century. And Rutherford B. Hayes didn't fight Jim Crow laws; it was the notorious Compromise of 1877 which installed him in power on the explicit promise that he would stop fighting white supremacy in the south. So…yeah.

Tuesday's remarks were hardly out of character for LePage, who in the past has called people of color "the enemy" in Maine's drug crisis, and later insisted "guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty," were to blame for heroin entering his state.