A town manager in Maine who reportedly said Islam was “not compatible with Western culture” has been fired.
Thomas Kawcynzki was ousted as town manager of Jackman, Maine, Tuesday morning.
Kawcynzki’s dismissal came after the controversial comments were made public in a local newspaper and spread online.
Kawcynzki spoke to the Portland Press Herald on Jan. 19, and denied being a racist but called himself a “steward” of a group called New Albion, which he said was “defending the people and culture of New England.”
Kawcynzki told the paper that the lack of diversity in northern Maine means that he’s able to “experience the joys of living in a monoculture” and he opposes Islam because it is “not compatible with Western culture.”
The case drew the attention of national hate watch groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Everyone has the right to their own views, however intolerant or racist, but no one has the right to use public office to advance those bigoted and extremist views,” said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s communications director, in a statement.
The statement was released Monday, the day before Kawcynzki was fired.
Heidi Beirich, director of SPLC’s Intelligence Project, said the group became aware of New Albion, the group for which Kawcynzki identifies as a “steward,” after an alleged neo-Nazi whom SPLC monitors posted it on his blog.
“It’s unacceptable to see people in leadership positions espousing white nationalist views. The Jackman selectmen did the right thing by removing Tom Kawcynzki from his position as town manager,” Beirich said in a statement to ABC News.
Kawcynzki did not immediately return ABC News’ request for comment.
After this morning’s vote at the Jackman town office, Kawcynzki made a statement saying his firing was “without cause,” according to MaineToday Media’s website.
“Now, in terms of the actual comments which led to this situation, I have serious issues because I was someone exercising my constitutionally protected freedom of speech,” Kawcynzki said to reporters at the town office this morning.
Kawcynzki said the interpretation of his comments were “inaccurate,” and that he will clarify his views in the future, according to CentralMaine.com.
“I reject categorically the suggestion that I am a racist, a bigot, a Nazi, or any of the other foul names which have been attributed to me or my wife. What I will say, and I will say this quite publicly, is I do believe that we have the rights as citizens, as American citizens, to assert that some ideas are better than others and to have discussions about those ideas,” he said.
He added: “That does not take away peoples’ constitutional rights to express them. But no citizen, without regard to what their office is, should have to give up their rights of free expression or freedom of assembly.”