Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Masks in Howard County

Who knew masks would be so popular in 2020, aside from the Watchmen?

Masks, of course, come in many forms.  There are the literal ones, such as the black balaclava that I don before leaving the house.  Worn in conjunction with black fleece, sweatpants, and tennis shoes, let’s just say that I receive a great deal of attention when I walk into banks.

Then there are the figurative masks.  I have noticed in recent years, with the rise of ethno-nationalism in the US and overseas, that many of these masks have been slipping.

Turning closer to home, in our very own slice of heaven we know as “Howard County,”  many masks have been ripped off…sometimes by their owner.

We have seen Gian Alfeo, current (but not for long) candidate for the Howard County Board of Education in District Three, seen his mask removed…as has been revealed by the intrepid reporting of the Howard County Progress Report.

Further, we seen which of the other 2020 candidates for the Board of Education possess the courage to rebuke Mr. Alfeo’s sentiments, and who (at least as of this writing) lack that attribute.  The question must be asked, for those who have chosen to remain silent…why?

Why not stand with CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Howard County Muslim Council, in full-throated condemnation of Mr. Alfeo’s social media posts?  One would think that all BoE candidates would find a way to express their public outrage against the Islamophobic (and racist and misogynistic and transphobic) views expressed by Mr. Alfeo via those posts. 

Perhaps I have not yet seen those posts from Christina Delmont-Small, or Larry Pretlow, or Matt Levine, or all but one of the candidates running in District Five.*  If and when such posts are made, please let me know so I can update this post appropriately.

In the meantime, I can only assume a few more masks have slipped, exposing some genuine moral repulsiveness in our community.

*Update:  it has been brought to my attention that Cindy Vaillancourt has also posted on this topic on social media (HoCo education-centric groups, HoCo School Interest and HoCo Neighbors United).  Also, Tom Heffner reported that he posted to his BoE campaign page regarding this issue.

** Second Update:  Sezin Palmer posted a condemnation on her campaign page.

In solidarity.


  1. Sezin has a statement, it is pitiful. It’s full of shade directed at bullies and lacks empathy for the hurtful memes directed at our Muslin community.

  2. Correction please
    Sezin Omer Palmer
    Did condemn the unacceptable ugliness and the foul memes,
    Sezin is an immigrant, raised in a Muslim Family
    and posted the following being very clear that there is no place in our community for those types of memes nor points of view
    Sezin posted the below

    “After reviewing recent posts and comments regarding inappropriate memes that were shared by a BOE candidate, I feel the need to make a statement regarding my views on this topic.

    First, I was disturbed and saddened by the insensitive and, in some cases, deeply troubling, memes shared by the candidate. As the child of immigrants, raised in a Muslim family, I know firsthand how upsetting and hurtful these "jokes" can be. I noted the candidate's apology and regret for his actions, and while we all make mistakes and should have the opportunity to learn and grow from them, as individuals running for public office, our past can and should inform voters regarding our suitability for public office.

    Let me be clear: there is no place in our country, let alone our community, for these types of posts or viewpoints. If we truly wish to restore our sense of community and drive out prejudice, bigotry, and intolerance of different races, ethnic groups and sexual orientations, we must not tolerate any such actions on the part of our candidates or elected officials.

    I would be remiss, however, if I didn't state that I was also troubled by the hateful targeting of the candidate's treasurer/ex-wife and family by individuals in our community. As much as I despise the offensive and hateful memes, it is also disturbing to see the extent to which individuals have made many aspects of this campaign personal. It is one thing to discuss relevant topics like offensive posts by a BOE candidate; it is another to target family members with personal and hateful attacks.

    As I've stated before, I hope that we can look for opportunities to come together as a community and find common ground vice working to tear down those who are different than ourselves or hold opposing views to our own. I hope that we can focus on moving forward and having productive dialog regarding issues of substance related to the BOE and HCPSS.”