Wednesday, February 1, 2017

One Small Voice

We are living in a time when speaking out matters. And yet it feels as though our voices are small in the face of fierce and seemingly inexorably opposition. What good is one voice in the maelstrom?

Sally Yates, acting Attorney General at the Justice Department, used her voice this week to oppose the Immigration/Refugee ban imposed by the President. It was her job to assess the legality of the measure and she did not shrink from making a difficult decision. As we all know, she was fired.

I have so much respect for Ms. Yates for knowing the right thing to do and then doing it, in the face of almost certain termination. In this moment she had to be willing to stand alone. But she was standing up for the Constitution, and for the ideals which make our country both free and just.

Closer to home, Councilman Calvin Ball introduced legislation to make Howard County a sanctuary county. While the legislation was put forward by Ball and Councilwoman Jen Terrasa, it is Dr. Ball who has been the target of the vilest kind of abuse. Possibly because he is perceived as a potential candidate for County Executive in the next election, local Republicans have done everything they can to delegitimize his intent.

He is not being permitted to have the courage of his convictions. No, that would make him too human. He is painted as a partisan monster who acts only out of political self interest. Such attacks seek to discredit Dr. Ball and deflect attention from the very real issues of CB-9 and the very real people in our county who need and deserve our help.

Over at the Board of Education, chair Cindy Vaillancourt is working to bring about the transparency, accountability and responsiveness that county voters have made clear they desire. The response to her efforts has been almost continuous trolling on various social media outlets, including, but not limited to, ever-changing commenter names, fake Facebook and Twitter accounts, and radio call-in invective.

Let us not forget those days when she was flayed for using the word condom, lied about in statements about ethics and confidentiality, and harangued at a Board retreat. Ms. Vaillancourt has been the small voice against the big guns for quite some time. It is fortunate that she has some supportive colleagues these days. The truth is she has been willing to hold her own because she is determined to be the voice for students, parents, teachers, staff, and all those who don't have a voice but who deserve the very best school system we can give them.

And for this she endures character assassination. Oh, and a lawsuit.

What's the point? What does it matter? What good does one voice matter when the massive tanks of injustice are bearing down upon us?

It matters. One voice can speak the truth. One voice can tell us we are not alone.

One voice can pass the message to another.


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