A supporter of former President Donald Trump wears a "Make America Great Again" hat while waiting a Trunmp rally to start on June 29, 2016, at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Credit: Ashely L. Conti

The Maine Department of Education is standing by a video linked on a state website calling support for former President Donald Trump an example of “covert racism.”

It appears within a module on inclusivity available for Maine educators online, featuring an image that lists “MAGA” as one of many examples of “covert racism and white supremacy.” MAGA is an acronym for the phrase “Make America Great Again”, a campaign slogan associated with Trump and his supporters.

The video, created by the Augusta-based Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine and first reported by the conservative website Breitbart on Wednesday, was seized upon by Republicans trying to replace Gov. Janet Mills with former Gov. Paul LePage. The former two-term governor derided “woke” curriculum when he unveiled his education agenda this week, melding school-choice policies with criticism of teaching on race and gender identity.

Neither Mills’ education department nor the educator who created the module had any part in making the video, noted department spokesperson Marcus Mrowka. He said that no students were mandated to watch the video in classrooms.

Pushed about whether state officials had endorsed the content of the video or reviewed it before it was included in the module, Mrowka said it is parents, teachers, community members and school boards who decide what is taught in the classroom, not the department.

The beginning of the module also states that teachers and adults should be part of the lessons, he said. In the third slide, it warns that those looking for a completely student-independent project should “turn back now.” The video in question is on the 19th slide with three others.

“​​The Department of Education will continue to empower teachers, parents and elected school boards to make their own decisions about public education in Maine, despite attacks like these,” Mrowka said.

The module continued to include the video on the website as of late afternoon on Thursday.

It came after a May move by the Maine DOE to remove a video from their website explaining transgender identity to kindergarten students after it was featured on the right-wing Twitter account Libs of TikTok, which ridicules those holding progressive views on social issues and has been linked to harassment.

The video was posted on June 2, 2020, during a nationwide debate about racism in America spurred by the Minneapolis killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by police days before. It was also before Trump was ousted in the election that November by President Joe Biden.

Other things listed as covertly racist in the video’s image include “education funding from property taxes,” “calling the police on [Black] people,” anti-immigration policies,” “spiritual bypassing,” “not challenging racist jokes,” “All Lives Matter,” “racist Halloween costumes,” “assuming good intentions are enough” and “Holocaust denial.”

The video contrasts such topics with examples of “covert racism and white supremacy,” such as lynching, wearing blackface and using racial slurs.

The participants in the video do not specifically talk about Trump when the image calling “MAGA” racist is shown. They do mention people of color disproportionately being targeted by police, something that is referenced in the image. The Holocaust and Human Rights Center said its work is “apolitical by nature.”

“We hope anyone attempting to politicize our work will come visit us on the UMA campus in Augusta,” spokesperson Sara Lennon said.

Republican Governors Association spokesperson Will Reinert condemned the video, saying the Mills administration was teaching students that they are inherently racist for the views of themselves or their parents.

“You better believe parents will show their dissatisfaction on Election Day,” Reinert said.