Maine Sen. Michael Willette has a long history of online hate and bigotry

Sen. Michael Willette

Sen. Michael Willette

Maine State Senator Michael Willette, a Republican from Aroostook County, garnered national attention yesterday for his Facebook post joking that President Barack Obama would see members of ISIS at his family reunion.

Willette issued a half-hearted apology after the post became more publicly known, saying “I apologize for posting this on Facebook. Like too many people these days, I fell into the trap of posting something first and then thinking later. It was an error in judgment.”

You might think from that statement that Willette’s post was a one-time occurrence or some kind of misunderstanding and that he doesn’t actually believe those kinds of slurs against the President. A review of some of Willette’s previous Facebook posts, however, shows that he has a long history of claiming that President Obama is a Muslim and has connections to and has facilitated various terrorist or extremist groups. Willette has also suggested on several occasions that Obama is purging the American military and planning some kind of armed seizure of power.

Willette has also posted numerous comments and images attacking the President specifically along racial lines and he has made clear on several occasions that he believes American Muslims are dangerous fifth columnists bent on destroying the United States.

The words and images highlighted below are from a review of Willette’s postings mostly over a nine-month period in 2013 which I browsed yesterday before Willette changed his privacy settings, making all his posts inaccessible to the general public. He also seems to have deleted his official campaign Facebook page.

At certain points over the past few years, Willette has been a prolific Facebook user, making multiple posts a day for weeks at a time to the social network. Most of his posts are innocuous, but mixed in with his thoughts about dogs, real estate and weightlifting are some much darker sentiments.

“How will we ever make a stand against these radical Islamist when Obama is so entrenched with them?” wondered Willette, as he posted a link claiming Obama and his family have ties to terrorist groups.

“He said that no other ‘developed nation’ has as many shootings as America does. I guess the irony is lost on him that he is saying this at the same time as his people — the muslims — are shooting up a mall in Kenya and blowing up people at a church in Pakistan,” wrote Willette as he listened to Obama’s speech following the mass shooting at the Washington Naval Yard.

“No one really knows who the hell Obama really is and his past is as hard to understand as Egyptian hieroglyphics,” Willette wrote while linking to a claim that a member of Obama’s family is “Closely Associated [with] International Terrorist Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir”

“Living up to his Islamic heritage,” wrote Willette, linking to Obama quoted as saying “I’m getting really good at killing people,” supposedly in reference to drone strikes.

On several occasions, Willette shared links to supposed evidence that Obama’s administration had been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood. “Man, these guys on Obama’s team aren’t even trying to hide their Muslim Brotherhood cred anymore,” he wrote while linking to a fake Twitter profile for a supposed administration infiltrator.

After the Boston bombing, Willette wrote a series of posts claiming that President Obama and his wife were somehow linked to the perpetrators because the First Lady visited a Saudi national in the hospital who was injured in the blast (and wrongly considered a suspect in the bombing by conspiracy theorists), along with the other victims.

“Michelle Obama loves her terrorist friends more than the wounded from the bombing in Boston. Un-freaking real. What have we done to our country?” he wrote above one image.

“Truth” was all Willette wrote above an image he posted claiming that Obama was funneling weapons to Al Qaeda and using federal agencies as “his personal Gestapo against the American people.”

The theme of Obama hatching violent plots against the American people is a common one for Willette, and he has posted a number of links to conspiracy theory websites alleging that Obama was purging military commanders and buying up hollow-point ammo.

“Here is an interesting video that helps explains the gutting of our high level military leaders by Obama,” writes Willette about one link.

“11 all together and there will be more. Stacking military leadership to do his bidding,” writes Willette in reference to a link titled “The Regime of the Long Knives – Obama Fires 2 More Military Leaders”

“Boy, raise the alarm folks, this tyrant is quickly turning into a despot,” he writes in another post.

Screenshot 2015-03-09 14.29

When gun control legislation failed in Congress, Willette posted an image suggesting that the bill was part of “a plan to overthrow the country.”

On another occasion, he posted a link to an article titled “‘Martial law’ declared by Democrat in Congress” and wrote to a friend that “this may be the start of what we talked about last night.”

Although Willette sometimes attacked other Democratic politicians, (in one comment, he said in reference to Hillary Clinton that “I feel that what Obama is putting the US through will have its roots in her big ole ass and she won’t be able to shake it”), his main focus was always Obama.

He often attacked the president in racial terms.

“I would have to think that MLK would be so ashamed of them all,” wrote Willette in one post, while sharing an image of Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and other black leaders.

“Kind hard to argue against that.” Willette wrote above another image of Obama, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson with the caption “These three race baiters have done more to hurt Black people than any White person EVER could. They have set race relations back 50 years.”

When Obama visited South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s funeral, Willette suggested that “we change the locks in the White House before he gets back and invite him to stay right there in his homeland.”

Willette also made other, more general posts about race, including reacting to what he felt was unfair controversy surrounding Celebrity Chef Paula Dean’s use of a racial slur by writing “Welcome to crazy town where nothing makes sense.”

He also posted an unrelated photograph of a black man holding a gun and claimed it was Michael Brown, the young man killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri.

One of Willette’s favorite ways of criticizing the president is by quoting a somewhat unlikely source – Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“It’s a shame that I agree more with Putin than I do our own Resident in Chief,” he wrote when posting a quote from Putin faulting Obama’s foreign policy.

“HAAAAAA! This is so spot on! This describes Obama’s style, and personality to a tee.” Willette wrote above another alleged quote from Putin comparing Obama’s diplomacy to a pigeon playing chess who “shits on the board.”

Another image Willette posted quotes Putin attacking Muslims and other minorities and claiming that “The Russian customs and traditions are not compatible with the lack of culture or the primitive ways of most minorities.”

Willette also made disparaging comments about Muslims in his own words.

“Round them up and air drop them back into the rubble and hell holes from whence they came,” he suggested when posting an image about Muslims supposedly trying to change Western countries.

One article Willette links to claims that it’s in American Muslims’ “genetic code” to act as “sleeper cells” and overthrow the United States, creating “AmerIslamia.”

Willette claims his fear and hatred for the Islamic faith is rooted in his experiences serving in Desert Storm.

“The religion of Islam preaches deceit and lying for survival and to justify the survival of the Islamic religion. They are very, very good at this, and other ways of making you feel complacent and comfortable with them,” wrote Willette in a post. “I experienced it first hand during Desert Storm. An injured Kuwaiti man that I provided care to had filled me in on this tactic and others. It was made crystal clear to me how shady they are when I was done doctoring up his wounds. He hugged me and thanked me for help and told me I was a very caring and nice man. Thinking about some of the things he had told me while we had time together, I asked him if he would kill me if he had the chance, and with a smile and a pat on my back, said, yes, if Allah wants it so, then he would do it.”

The posts quoted here represent only some of the highlights of the part of Willette’s Facebook timeline that I reviewed. Due to his new privacy settings, it’s not clear exactly how many of these kind of bigoted posts he has written in total or for how long he has been writing them.

Last year, when it was revealed that an unpaid intern for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Congressman Mike Michaud had made a series of inappropriate social media posts unrelated to the campaign, the Maine Republican Party demanded that Michaud “immediately denounce these outrageous comments and fire the person who made them.”

No Republican leaders have yet condemned Sen. Willette’s remarks. He remains Chair of the legislature’s State and Local Government Committee.

Mike Tipping

About Mike Tipping

Mike is Maine's longest-writing political blogger and explores state politics and policy with a focus on analysis and explanation. He works at the Maine People's Alliance and Maine People's Resource Center.