The Howard County Council meeting at the George Howard Building last year.
The Howard County Council meeting at the George Howard Building last year. (BSMG file)

For those of you that don’t know, the Howard County Council is proposing Resolution 112 seeking to address socioeconomic disparity in Howard County. While I am in favor of seeking to solve real problems in the county due to socioeconomic imbalances, I oppose this resolution (as it is written) on multiple fronts and have many factual counter-arguments to the statements presented in the resolution. But I don’t want to waste my voice on these for which I know will be brought to light through other’s testimony. Rather, I will focus on an aspect that is quite elementary but sets the tone for the whole resolution. It all starts with the term “integration” used in the very first sentence: “A resolution requesting the Howard County Public School System to draft, approve, and implement a lawful multi-year Integration Plan to ensure that Howard County Public Schools are integrated by socioeconomic factors."

The term, “integration” is a politically-charged, incendiary and emotionally-evoking term. Don’t think for a minute this specific phrase was chosen without thought. This was an intentional and calculated phrasing chosen by the team of high-priced attorneys and public relations firms (which my tax dollars paid for, might add) that coached the County Council on how to draft this document. It is referenced again further down in the fourth statement of the resolution: “Whereas, Howard County did not fully integrate its public school system until 1965, 11 years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, when the segregated Harriet Tubman High School was closed and the students were sent to integrate Howard County public schools.” This term is an attempt to conflate, confuse and mislead the reader into evoking emotions of racial segregation. Later in the document, it says the resolution is about balancing “socioeconomic factors” (not race). Then why include this self-contradictory language? Make no mistake, it is on purpose! The lawyers who coached the County Council on the wording and positioning of this resolution want us to feel this confusion.

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Think about it. Who can oppose a resolution that supports “Integration” without being called a racist? Even I feel it right now — and I have a mixed-race family myself. Brilliantly, there is no way to publicly oppose it without having at least a smell of “racism. You lose before you even start. By choosing to use the term, integration, in the headline, the lawyers have stacked the deck against thoughtful opposition or discussion of the actual topics sought to be addressed. As we all know, in today’s sound-bite world, details are often superfluous (think Donald Trump). How can I oppose integration and not be called a racist? It’s a brilliant tactic. But the people of Howard County aren’t as naïve as you might think. Because we realize that this characterization is intentionally deceptive. This entire thing is about economic disparity. Fine. Let’s debate that and how we might solve each of these issues at the county level. But don’t call it integration to intentionally deceive. Why should we trust that this County Council to be fair and balanced when even the very first line of the resolution is intentionally deceptive?

Carl Manganillo, Ellicott City,

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