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Jared Bornstein is an avid outdoorsman, lobbyist and the executive director of Maine Hunters United for Sunday Hunting. He lives in Skowhegan.
Being a native Mainer with many friends, colleagues and fellow university students who are from away, I have found myself being an apologist for Maine and the Mainers-first attitude that many here, in rural Maine especially, feel. I have explained our attitude about flatlanders in the most academic and socially sensitive ways possible. I talk about our history being taken advantage of by larger states — it dates all the way back to the war of 1812 when the British occupied the lands east of the Penobscot River and Maine received little help to fend off the incursion.
Also in the 1800s and into the early 1900s people from away were sending hunting parties to the Northwoods to massacre moose and caribou for their hides, for sale in Boston, New York City and Toronto. More recently, we saw a foreign-owned corporation wanting to build a powerline through western Maine to deliver power to Massachusetts.
The most stark example to me is our paper mills being bought by out-of-state interests, which received generous tax benefits, before being sold or closed leaving thousands of workers without a paycheck.
Maine has a long history of being taken advantage of by people and businesses from away, resulting in generational trauma as sticky as a spring snow. It has left us skeptical, but welcoming to respectful and kind transplants and tourists.
The recent New York Post column written by Cindy Adams is a push-pull jumble of complements and feckless critiques of a state whose founding principles are independence and hard work. There is a reason that we shook our offsite Bostonian oppressors in 1820 after 143 years of being a territory of Massachusetts.
Adams’ column is actually a stunningly honest and citable piece describing how Mainers feel about what people from away think about them. We know we are nice, we know we have a beautiful state and we also know that you all look at us as fashion-less simpletons.
“Locals whose behinds overlap the state of Texas all stuffed into shorts. Realtors could establish an entire campsite on the average ass,” Adams wrote in her much derided column.
The truth is, we are happy that we have set a standard of fashion that is based on the content of our character, not the shine of our shoes. I work in the State House as a lobbyist. Once in a while I have clients from away come to visit. I make sure they dress casual. We all know when someone from New York City or Los Angeles shows up in their ridiculous outfits and red-bottom shoes that even the richest of rich Mainers wouldn’t be caught dead donning.
Our fashion, and our butts, are a testament to the generations of loggers, lobstermen, mill workers, farmers, military members and countless others whose lives can depend on the attire that they are fitted with. Unfortunately for Adams, she may not understand a hard day’s work and can’t understand why a flannel is homage to our heritage.
I, for one, am grateful to live in a state that places hard work over vapid fashion choices. A state that places how we treat others above how big their butts are. A state that has something more to offer than shiny lights and concrete views. No, Maine is not New York City, Cindy. Let’s keep it that way.