Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Frank Rejection

As I had hoped he would, the County Executive had something to say about the recent hateful posts referencing Democratic candidates. To be honest, I’ll admit I had thought he would remain silent and hope the issue would go away. That appears to be the preferred response of HoCo Republicans.

So, I must give Mr. Kittleman credit, he took the political risk of standing up to the bully:

Recent social media memes referencing several local candidates, including my opponent, over the past few days are disturbing and totally unacceptable.  As the son of a Howard County civil rights leader, and as someone who has worked to support equality for all people, I denounce the use of race or sexual orientation in any way to attack or discredit anyone.  No matter how much we may disagree on a topic or issue, these personal attacks are hurtful, insulting and have no place in Howard County.

I certainly don’t mind be shown to be wrong when it means that people are being braver and truer to a moral code than I expected. Go ahead, show me up. Be your best self. Make me look foolish. It’s a win-win as far as I am concerned.

I don’t know if you recall, but earlier this year a nasty little page with the puzzling name of Howard County Hate Watch started spewing hate speech about local Republicans in reference to the CB-9 Sanctuary legislation. The page was anonymous; at the time no one knew who ran it. Local Republicans were sure it was a coordinated effort by the local Democratic establishment.  (It wasn’t.) And despite the fact that he had no idea who it was, Council member Calvin Ball stepped in and publicly repudiated the page and its statements:

Being a welcoming, compassionate community where all residents feel safe is not a destination but a constant journey, which requires vigilance and reliance upon our values. Over the past few weeks, we've seen supporters of CB9 derided and mocked on social media. As an elected official, I expect that kind of attack, but I find it completely unacceptable when targeted at private citizens. Now, I see those aligned with this bill using those same tactics, which may feel good, but does not help our cause.

I too am very concerned about disrespect and hate in our community. I am very glad that we have courageous citizens who will stand up and speak up. To whomever is running the "Howard County Hate Watch" page, please stop posting anything negative or posts attacking others. We may disagree with some, but these are our neighbors, even when we disagree. I strongly urge us all to model the empathetic kindness which makes our community great!

Taking a stand against bullies and refusing to remain silent is not going to be a “one-and-done” in this campaign, I fear. Sadly, there are those in Howard County who are hungry to consume that kind of racist rhetoric. It will continue to be up to the candidates and both parties to maintain focus on the real issues and reject any attempts to steer public debate into the gutter.

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