Once upon a time (OK, in late July 2019) an angry young woman named Mackenzie Swift spoke out in favor of DOXXing the “Nazis” and “White Supremacists” involved in Tom Kawczynski’s Maine for Mainers group. Several MFM members noted that Swift had a link to her workplace, a popular Hallowell establishment named Slates Restaurant and Bakery. A few posted negative reviews to their Facebook page: others contacted the management with their complaints about being unfairly characterized as Nazis and White Supremacists.
I have had quite a few political conversations with Tom Kawczynski. His political views are more informed by the Founding Fathers than by German Nationalism. Take away his crazy idea that “White American” is a legitimate ethnic and cultural identity and Tom is more pre-Koch Brothers Tea Party than nouveau Nazi Party. The participants on Maine for Mainers skew conservative, are strongly pro-2nd Amendment, and are largely observant Christians. This may make them anathema in some quarters, sure. But is going to church, respecting the constitution and voting Republican enough to make one a dangerous Nazi and White Supremacist?
Swift certainly appears to think so. She demanded that Slates turn over the names of all complainants so that she could obtain “orders of protection.” This would, of course, also leave these complainants vulnerable to vigilante attacks and harassment. And so Slates, recognizing their legal liability, stated that they would only turn over that information to the proper authorities upon receiving a subpoena. They also appeared less than sympathetic to Swift’s fears of Nazi oppressors breaking down her door, and cruelly expected her to show up for her scheduled shifts.
On July 29, 2019 Mackenzie Swift created the Facebook group Maine for Everyone as a more tolerant and inclusive alternative to Maine for Mainers. One of the first people Swift added was Sass Linneken. According to Linneken’s LinkedIn profile:
Sass Linneken (they/them/theirs) is the Executive Director of Resources for Organizing and Social Change (ROSC) in Maine where they help carry out ROSC’s mission to build and support a movement for nonviolent social change that will educate, activate, & empower all Maine people through grassroots community organizing. The goal of this work is to share resources and support all Maine people who want to engage in social change work, particularly those who are the most affected by oppressive systems. We strive to build infrastructure and strengthen cross-issue statewide movement building by increasing leadership development for grassroots organizers, promoting democratic practices within organizations, and supporting work that gets to root causes of injustice.
Additionally, Sass works in a volunteer capacity with a number of other social justice groups, with a particular focus on racial justice, class-based and decolonizing work. When capacity allows, Sass also enjoys volunteering with direct relief groups that aim to provide food security through community farming projects.
Soon after joining Sass invited over 100 people, most directly affiliated with one or more of her organizations. They quickly became among the most active posters in the group. Clear splits soon appeared between the group’s Liberal and Radical members on issues like gun control and the uses of violence as a political tool. Those Liberal members who protested their case too strongly were soon dog-piled and harangued. Some were banned or left the group but most just moved on to safer topics like their hatred of Nazis and White Supremacists. Sass helped organize dialogue and debate between the groups, noting that Swift was new to activism and apologizing for any mistakes on her behalf.
Sass also chimed in on Swift’s behalf, posting a call to arms on her personal page, Maine for Everywhere and other groups. Slates’ Facebook page was soon deluged with reviews accusing them of racism, White Supremacism and bad food. Then friends and employees of the establishment chimed in with their side of the story.
Hmmm. So Mackenzie isn’t just a fresh-faced young kid who is “new to activism” and not just somebody Sass loves “verrryyy much.” She’s Sass Linneken’s daughter. How very, very curious. And how very odd that neither mentioned that fact until somebody else brought it up. Especially since Linneken’s younger daughter, Jade Kutzer, has been a public activist for years. And especially since Maine for Everyone, which started as a response to the horrors of Tom Kawczynski, looks remarkably like what midcentury Americans used to call a “front organization.”
Yet for all the huffing and puffing Slates remained largely unmoved by Linneken’s campaign. Regular customers cited Slates’ extensive history of support for the LGBT community and various progressive causes. Offensive reviews were quickly deleted from their page; troublesome complainers, especially those who had never been to Slates and would more likely be found spare-changing outside it than eating within, were quickly blocked and deleted. And so, as it became increasingly clear that they were not going to get their way, Linneken and Swift dropped the final bomb.
Nobody at Maine for Mainers was aware that Sass Linneken and Mackenzie Swift were Jewish. Frankly, nobody cared. We weren’t surprised, mind you. There have long been jokes throughout the Dissident Right about our “fellow White people” who lecture us at length about our sins, then claim their Jewish identity when called on their privilege. And of course if Linneken and Swift file an EEOC complaint, “They harassed me for being Jewish” sounds more impressive than “They wanted my daughter to show up for her assigned shifts.” Linneken is well aware of the various axes of oppression and happy to use whatever works toward the desired end: it’s clear that her red diaper children have learned what she taught them well.
At present it is unclear how this will shake out. Slates remains open and will likely continue to serve people whom Linneken and Swift consider “White Supremacists.” Swift’s coworkers greatly resent the damage her antics did to the business and her efforts to destroy her livelihood, and are not likely to forget that anytime soon. It is unlikely Swift will return to Slates: it is likely she will have difficulty finding work anywhere in Maine for some time after this. (Employers are generally reluctant to hire people prone to declare them Nazis on social media campaigns). Linneken’s followers will have a new target for their scorn. The regulars at Slates will continue eating there as they have for over 40 years. And those who have eyes to see will have gained still more insight into how petty, power-hungry and nepotistic the Radical Left truly is.