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August 15, 2008

Evil Demagogue

Roy Meachum

The evil in John "Lennie" Thompson's soul became public when he prolonged a hearing past midnight; he knowingly kept children up who wanted to sleep. But their mothers desperately needed a school and a place to worship. But they were only Muslims and mostly foreign-born. They were, however, legal residents.


This happened by the way before 9/11, and the war in Iraq was nowhere in sight. Mr. Thompson was still quietly cheered by people who didn't want "them" around. Nevertheless, the Islamic Society of Frederick found a place within the city. You may not know that the mosque has been holding prayer services for years.


Still, the guy from Walkersville can't build a loyal following by things that only come along occasionally. The commissioner's favorite kicking boy is the building industry. Mr. Thompson seems to believe the only good developers are dead developers. Of course, that's not always true: When Commissioner-buddy David Gray subdivided and sold off lots, his fellow Republican barely burped.


Otherwise, on the subject, the gentleman from Walkersville scarcely acts like a gentleman: He normally twists "developer" into an obscenity, thus demeaning hundreds of Frederick citizens that work in the building trades. Incidentally, taxes from the expanding county infrastructure support schools; they keep the Frederick County Public Schools competitive for teachers, at the simplest level.


For demagogues, nothing plays better in this constantly changing community than to rile up fears of unknown forces. Foreigners automatically qualify. It was no surprise that Mr. Thompson loudly jumped on the anti-immigrant band wagon. The only real surprise is that he allowed Winchester Hall newcomer Charles Jenkins to get there first.


In his latest ploy for the insecure among us, Commissioner Thompson demands that school authorities enumerate and keep a roster of pupils who might be in this country illegally. The next logical step is to have the boys and girls wear something that will set them apart. The Star of David worked for the Nazis, who were thus able to recognize Jews on sight.


There just might not be a single symbol that could work locally. On the streets of downtown Frederick, Pushkin and I are treated to all sorts of accents; mostly Latino, to be sure. But we've encountered Asians, Africans and Europeans who have not yet learned English. Can we assume that all these other children are legitimately in this country? Maybe not.


But then, Lennie may not be serious. He already knows this county cannot make a classroom census without state approval; certainly educators have more pressing responsibilities. They could tip the General Assembly against his idea. It doesn't really matter to his ambition.


Waiting for the legislature that doesn't meet for another four months-plus, Mr. Thompson could reap the rewards of tying into the anti-immigrant gang. With the Ku Klux Klan no longer around, the commissioner might get something in bed sheets going. The Klan preached and taught Catholics wanted to take over America and let the Pope rule!


If that sounds ridiculous now, then I find even more laughable the proposition that children of illegal immigrants – and understand the kids could be U.S.-born citizens – represent a real threat to schools' budgets or our social harmony.


But then everybody knows John L. Thompson has his eye on the General Assembly; he's already said his standing in Winchester Hall has waned. He hopes he can wax powerfully as a state senator. He thinks he needs more and more publicity to get there.


But, Lennie, as the last election demonstrated, shooting off your mouth enables people to see the shallowness and the evil that lurks in your words. For readers who don't know: the one-time commission president was at the bottom of the five successful candidates the last time around.


But his capacity for spreading evil endures.


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