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As Long as We Remember...

August 6, 2010

Spitting, No Feud

Roy Meachum

The Frederick News-Post headline had it wrong: “PATTERSON RUN FOR BOE SPARKS FEUD AMONG CANDIDATES.” It was a spitting contest between two immature, unqualified candidates.


In the first place, it should be understood Omari Patterson can run in the Board of Education elections; the law says he cannot serve as long as his wife works for the county Board of Education: she’s a teacher at North Frederick Elementary.


Looking up Mr. Patterson’s educational qualifications, it’s apparent that he read and understood the law before filing and paying his fee; he thinks, however, since he’s an African American the restriction should not apply to him. Bushwa! – the applicable word in my native childhood New Orleans went.


The same link provided information that he supported Barack Obama in the presidential race. As readers know very well, so did I. In my columns, there has been a bellowing charge that much of the hue and cry against the president has been racist. To which, my right-wing conservative friends throw back the same Louisiana word. I still hold very firm: my friends are wrong. The fundamental anti-Obama movement takes up where the Klan set aside its bed sheets.


What Mr. Patterson faces is a colorblind law that affects him only because of his marriage; it intends to protect citizens and taxpayers from nepotism – the possibility of conflict of interest in voting on everyday especially financial matters. From his statements printed in the News-Post, the probability expands from personal self-interest to racial matters. However justifiably phrased in a historic context, the bias against today’s whites should disqualify him from public office in the present legal atmosphere.


Laws, regulations and the general mental attitude now support Thomas Jefferson in his assertion: “all men are created equal.” It was hypocrisy in 1776. Most of the Founding Fathers owned other human beings. A few years later Mr. Jefferson was serving as the new nation’s ambassador to France when the committee gathered to write the Constitution. When it came to decreeing a census every 10 years, an agreement reached among delegates assigned a slave’s worth as less than other citizens’.


It must now be declared: Mr. Patterson stands equal to anyone and possessed of all the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. But his rights start only where fellow candidate Rob Johnson’s end, as illustrated by a joke on the subject:


A man emerging excitedly from a court where he became a full-fledged American waved his citizenship papers around; he hit a fellow citizen in the nose. There was retaliation, which knocked him down. Sitting up on the ground, the new American protested that he possessed rights guaranteed in the Constitution; he received the reply: “Your rights begin where my nose ends.”


This is the origin of the spitting contest the News-Post referred to as a feud. (Mr. Patterson also exchanged lesser heated remarks with Glenn Dexter, who’s also running for a seat on the school board.)


Rob Johnson flat out attacked. “Instead of whining and crying, if he wants to be a candidate so bad, then his wife should resign her position as teacher,” he was quoted in Margie Neal’s newspaper story. She continued: “(He) also wrote he expected to be called a racist and a bigot for his criticism of Patterson, who is black.”


“I’m just itching for that fight,” Mr. Johnson summed up, according to reporter Neal.


Sure enough, Mr. Patterson slammed Candidate Johnson: “an ignorant egotistical, self centered, emotional, racist and bigoted person.” (By definition egotistical and self-centered describe the same outlook.)


Ms. Neal observed: “In an exchange punctuated by non-standard usages in spell, punctuation or grammar…”


Why the two candidates took their spitting contest public does not amaze; more and more politicians, nationally and locally, show the world they suffer from hoof-and-mouth disease by sticking both feet in their mouths. Their numbers increased with the proliferation of media and will not die soon.


In Frederick County, Omari Patterson and Rob Johnson demonstrated magnificently they are not emotionally or intellectually qualified to serve on the Board of Education.


My gray beard and balding head continue to shake: No wonder most people look on politics as a bad, dreary joke.




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