Sunday, February 12, 2017

When Worlds Collide

Dear Jim Rouse, it was a good dream and vision while it lasted...

A friend posted this yesterday on Facebook. I have a feeling that it's in reference to what we have been experiencing in our community around the issue of the CB-9 legislation.

I don't blame her for feeling that we are experiencing a death of that original ideaism which was woven into Columbia's very creation. But it's important to remember that Howard County existed before Columbia. The New American City was plopped down into an area that wasn't all that happy about the change.

Much of why I started this blog comes from that tension. There has long existed tension between Columbia and all of its almost-utopian-planned-community vibe, and the Howard County that is separate from that, Believe me, there is tension. And it existed way before the Sanctuary legislation was proposed.

From the blog HoCo Connect, written by Duane St. Clair:

Columbia vs. the rest of Howard County returns

    When I moved to Columbia in the 1970's the political split in the County was very noticeable.  There 
were two Democratic Clubs- one liberal in Columbia and one conservative in Ellicott City.  The liberal 
population that bought into Rouse's planned city was a cultural shock to Howard County residents 
who were mostly conservative.  Columbia's population controlled Howard County politics starting in 
the 1980's.  As with the rest of conservatives nationally, the conservative Howard County Democrat 
voters began switching to the Republican party.  This story is told very well with the series that 
Len Lazarick has been telling to celebrate Columbia's 50th birthday.
     So it is somewhat surprising to see the same political dichotomy show up with the recently 
introduced Council bill on becoming a sanctuary county.  The supporters were largely represented 
by the liberal Columbia community and the opponents were heavily represented by residents from
 Elkridge and Western Howard County.  Maybe things haven't changed as much as we would like to think.

I keep seeing posts blaming all of the public anger and unpleasantness we have been witnessing on the Council members who introduced the legislation. This is just silly. That would be like blaming racism on the Civil Rights movement, or the horrors of the meatpacking industry on Upton Sinclair. It's rather like suspending high school students who shared a racist video in order to condemn it.

The passion on both sides of this issue comes from the kinds of people we already have in Howard County. No legislation put it there. However people chose to act is a reflection on who they are. You can't blame rudeness, or anger, or misinformation campaigns, or your inner uncomfortable feelings on Dr. Ball or Ms. Terrasa. Let's be honest: these people are upset that this issue made them look at things they didn't want to look at. Period.

Now, the Columbia vs The County division is not etched in stone when it comes to CB9. I'm sure there are Columbia people who opposed it, and HoCo people who were in favor. My point today is that the values and world-views that we saw clashing at the George Howard Building have been around a long, long time. Suggesting that the mere proposal of the legislation created this ignores the history of both Columbia and Howard County.

Sometimes the place where Columbia and Howard County intersect isn't pretty. If that is the case, we need to own it, not try to find a scapegoat that makes us feel better about ourselves.

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