• Spartan Considerations

I wasn’t planning on writing anything further on the topic(s), beyond the social media posts I have already made.


However, after seeing the disparagement and invectives hurled in the direction of Ms. Sabina Taj and Ms. Ainy Haider-Shah, I felt compelled to pen this article.


Let me approach this from a couple angles.


On a personal level, I believe that Ms. Haider-Shah and Ms. Taj are honorable, ethical, and civic-minded residents of Howard County; each with a genuine interest in furthering the common good through public service.


On a political level, I don’t agree with either of them on multiple issues. However, when I see baseless claims that these women are part of some nefarious schemes, claims that are simultaneously risible and infuriating, I can’t leave those wild-eyed statements unaddressed.


We live in a time when the spectre of creeping authoritarianism is just an “election” or two away. Of course, how valid will many elections be in states adopting truly draconian voter suppression laws or engaging in practices which have the same effect? Within that environment, we need people of the caliber of Ms. Taj and Ms. Haider-Shah, people who are willing to step up and, through their public service, help restore integrity to a damaged society.


For having opinions, they are called “divisive.” For being willing to spend hours upon hours on local boards and commissions that serve as linkages between local government and the governed, time away from their families and professional obligations, their motives are impugned.


Many of the attacks are coming from those who supposedly share their values in terms of how government can best serve the people. I would call upon these “cut-and-paste” testimony scribblers operating in the dark, especially those who call themselves Democrats, to reflect upon their words and actions. Yes, I know these are non-partisan boards and commissions, and yes, I know some will be all too eager to point this out or twist my words. And yes, I will be accused of carrying water for the “Establishment” but in a time when the Big Crunch threatens our small d-democracy, I want folks – even neoliberals – who I can trust and who I know put the people’s interests first and foremost in such (relatively) small yet important roles.


I wholeheartedly support the confirmations of Ms. Haider-Shah to the Compensation Review Commission and Ms. Taj to the Board of Library Trustees.


In solidarity.


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The quote by the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould keeps flashing across my mind:


“I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.” [italics added]


Meanwhile, as we approach what would have been his 80th birthday, the sedulous ignorance which infects our population has somehow managed to turn the undeniable into the debatable; the horrific into the somehow acceptable. While some labor to shift the Overton window towards a more compassionate society, others are loud and menacing proponents for shattering the glass…or burning the house down entirely.


I had the misfortune of reading a post that originated in the HoCo Neighbors Something-or-Other today. So, I revisited what I could see of the group (having long since been shown the door, much to my mental well-being). Too many remembrances of screeds past.


A cursory glance at some recent posts revealed, in no particular order:


· Klan apologia

· Reflexive, thoughtless nationalist triumphalism

· An anti-busing statement within the context of a thread on slavery and genocide in the United States as well as the Holocaust

· Downplaying the public health threat of the Delta variant

· Blatantly incorrect definitions of racism (including the non-existent “reverse racism”)

· Teacher-bashing

· Critical Race Theory denunciations

· Conspiracy mongering

· A complete misunderstanding about the removal of Confederate statues. Hint: books are for learning; statues are for celebrating. Think of it this way, I am certain many of us can agree that learning about Nazi Germany is important while also being opposed to having statues of Hitler erected. Of course, I am far less certain about that “many of us” contention these days.

· People amplifying factually inaccurate statements about COVID and the science behind its transmission, prevention, and overall public health impact.


In short, a poisoned gruel of hate and incomprehension. And yet, as has been noted, the purveyors of malice do not merely exist digitally. They reside in our own communities. We walk past them in grocery stores, we see them shopping at the Mall, we hear their horns honking as we wait at lights.


Knowing what might be going on in the darkest space above their shoulders, how can anyone let down their guard, even for the briefest of moments?


I will close with this from Bertolt Brecht:


“Whose tomorrow is tomorrow? And whose world is the world?”


What is to be done?


In solidarity.

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  • Spartan Considerations

Or “HyCo” as it is known in the lesser-traveled and perilous neighborhoods of Greater Columbia and environs. Where are the O’Jays when they are needed the most?


“All the time they want to take your place The back stabbers (back stabbers) (They smilin' in your face)”


How can I go about funding a Choose Authenticity campaign? I would much rather see those bumper stickers plastered on every car from Maple Lawn to Long Reach rather than the laughable Choose Civility detritus folks affix to their vehicles. The single greatest deficit facing HyCo is not physical in nature, it is neither schools nor housing; neither transportation nor a sustainable tax base. It is, in fact, the paucity of simple honesty.


Perhaps I was spoiled by growing up in the Great Lake State, where conversational artifice is as rare as a cook-out in January.


[Counterpoint: Kid Rock, but he is far more than exception than the rule, and also a greasy poseur greatly in need of a sound and righteous ass-kicking (Bawitdafuck-you Robby from Romeo, MI).]

I believe one of the reasons why there is so much animus in our political dialogue in HyCo is because there is a fundamental lack of trust in the motivations and intent of the “other.”


Frankly, there is good reason for this. So many HyCo people seem on the make. Or have barely concealed ulterior motives. Or are somewhat delusional.


So, we ascribe the worst to the "other," as a defense mechanism if nothing else. Best to be prepared. Adopt the first-strike capability doctrine now. Especially since far too many HyCo-ians would seemingly accept the consequences of mutually assured destruction. "If I can't win, the 'other' won't either..."


What is to be done? To be honest, I do not know. I identified the problem, is that not enough for Phase One? Phase Three, according to the Gnomes, is profit. Finding and implementing solutions, that is Phase Two. This will be discussed later.


Going to use my old and new taglines and one more: Stay Tuned, as More Will Follow...Reporting from HyCo...In solidarity,


Spartan Considerations

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