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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

O Carroll County ...

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

O Carroll County ...

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Last week, Bobby sent me a link to an article in the Carroll County Times with the Bill Maher-style comment: "New rule: If you can't spell it, you can't talk about it." However, I managed to avoid realizing that our county's idiocy has apparently national news! GO US! Even my sister in England had heard about Carroll County's "illeagles."

 photo illeagles_zpsc818363d.jpg

There is so much that I love about my home county. It's beautiful, for one, and driving around Carroll County is often like driving through a postcard with the red barns and patchwork fields and big sky over blue mountains. Having learned from other rural counties in central Maryland, Carroll is sensitive to preserving that, and while we have our share of housing developments--like the one right down the hill from where we live--there is a deliberate effort to keep Carroll rural. Of course, that's part of the appeal for Bobby and me, who try to source as much of our food locally as possible, because we can do that here and maybe even think about leasing our own little patch of land to raise herbs and honey. And people are friendly here. After moving from Ellicott City, I was surprised that people will strike up conversation with you at the gas station, and neighbors expect to know your name, and business owners and servers at restaurants remember you and seem to actually give a damn when you darken their doors. (Part of that, too, is that Bobby and I, being former restaurant workers ourselves, are good tippers.)

But then there's the politics. We are the most conservative county in central Maryland, which unfortunately translates to (as it so often does) the most ignorant and bigoted county in central Maryland. The misspelled graffiti above was sprayed in Westminster, our county seat and "bustling metropolis" (population 19,000), about 10 minutes from where we live, on a defunct National Guard building that had been proposed as a possible place to accommodate some of the unaccompanied minors who had crossed into the U.S. We drive past that building several times a week. O Carroll, we should be so proud. We have finally commanded our share of the spotlight on the world stage, only to flaunt our ignorance and bigotry for all to see.

Just to see what would happen, I commented on a Carroll County Times article about the "illeagles" incident, knowing full well that it was wading into the snakepit. My comment suggested--to these "good Christians" who self-identify as "pro-life" and "pro-family"--that we might extend enough empathy and basic human dignity to these children to not round them up and send them home to be massacred. The comments I received in reply were nothing short of vitriolic. I was told to "STFU" and instructed that, if I cared so much, I might adopt a few of the children for myself. Someone remarked that he didn't mind what I did with my resources, but he didn't want his tax dollars going toward something like this. (Immigrants. Ew.) Because, apparently, conservatives get the privilege of selecting what their taxes will pay for like checking off the toppings you want to add to your cheeseburger at a burger bistro. (I wish I qualified for that privilege because I'd immediately strike off my list corporate welfare, most everything to do with the military except for active-duty servicepeople and veterans [they'd both get raises], and subsidies for Big Ag. But alas, I am a progressive.) I got called a bleeding-heart liberal, which has honestly never happened before! I thought that was long-relegated to exist as a cliché that people only used when joking around. Then there were the phony talking points about how this was all a scheme cooked up by the Obama administration to get more Democratic voters and how these "children" were really adults and how they're actually all MS-13 gang members because, again, immigrants EWW.

The idea that a kid unfortunate to be born in a bad place at a bad time should die to save some guy in Carroll County some hypothetical pennies on his taxes--because, in all likelihood, he doesn't even pay federal income tax--honestly sickens me. The comments I received only further demonstrated the ugly attitudes lurking in our otherwise beautiful and friendly county. I wonder what decency we have left as humans if we look at children fleeing in fear of their lives and asking for our help and suggest with a straight face that they be sent back home to be massacred because we can't be bothered with them. Or when we can't tolerate the federal government using a vacant federal building that happens to be located in our county to house these children, because then they might be close to our children, and it might be catching: the nonwhiteness, the immigrantness, the Spanish-speakingness ("because why should I have to press 1 for English?"), or maybe tolerance or empathy or humanity. Or something.

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

  • I never figured Carrol County would not want to help those ill eagles ;)

    But all jokes aside, these people ignore their own roots and values since they also did not originate from the States. Makes you wonder about their christian values and such, that they seem to forget once they sought a new home away from persecution, a new dream to pursue... But no, like Smaug they want to sit on their own American dream, denying it to others...
    • I never figured Carrol County would not want to help those ill eagles ;)

      Bald eagles are the national bird and all! I saw one driving north through Carroll County last year. You'd think we'd care more. ;)

      they also did not originate from the States.

      Yes, people here do forget that quickly. They also tend to forget that people of Polish, German, and Irish origin--all ancestries well represented among Marylanders--were subject to the same kind of hate that is now lobbed at Latin American immigrants: that they were dirty, lazy, poor, diseased, had too many kids, slept too many to a room, didn't speak the language (although we have no national language, and for a reason), siphoning the resources of hard-working Americans while working harder and doing work that most of those Americans would be unwilling to do.

      But as an article that Bobby sent me put so aptly, this is not an immigration crisis; it is a humanitarian crisis. When the richest nation in the world starts sending kids back to places where they face a high likelihood of death or harm because we can't be arsed to see the rich pay a few pennies more in taxes, we ought to be ashamed.
      • The irony on the eagle thing was not lost on me: if the national bird is described as ill and not welcome, what does that say about the state of your nation?

        It is a very humanitarian crisis indeed, have people lost so badly touch with their own human nature that they do not look after another? Or only if they dress, walk and talk the same?

        To quote Ghandi: 'The measure of a civilization is how it treats its weakest members.'

        This to mention: we're not doing any better with how gov' is trying to get rid of budgetting stuff for handicapped kids here. And we also had a debate about general pardon for refugee kids to stay here if they stayed her for a number of years... *sighs*
        • have people lost so badly touch with their own human nature that they do not look after another?

          The right-wing here is all big on "personal responsibility," which means "against helping out anyone who's not them." Conservative states are the biggest users of welfare here, but you wouldn't know it to talk to them.

          My feeling: We are all on this planet together. No matter how well you think you're doing for yourself, there comes a time when you need to depend on the kindness of someone else. I just hope that they or their families do not some day need the kindness of strangers.

          we're not doing any better with how gov' is trying to get rid of budgetting stuff for handicapped kids here.

          That is one thing I really am proud of the U.S. for. Our special-ed laws are really good, covering kids from ages 3-21 (earlier if the disability requires early intervention). School districts don't get a choice in it; they have to provide a free and appropriate education to all children, regardless of disability or cost. I wish it were the same everywhere ...

          Edited at 2014-07-23 11:46 pm (UTC)
  • I know how you feel, believe me! I live in one of the "reddest of the red" states; it goes w/o saying that my hometown/county is ultra-red as well.

    There are times when I really wonder just how I ended up here because I have so many ideas/beliefs that are diametrically opposed to how most of the people think/feel. (I know, because they never fail to inform me of this fact.) I guess that's why I live online.
    • I am lucky in that Maryland is generally one of the bluest of the blue states, and some of what we've managed to enact at the state level or state-level candidates who had a decent shot are truly progressive. Carroll County is an anomaly in the central part of the state, and the rhetoric here sounds more like what you'd here in the Midwest or Deep South ... but drive a half-hour in any direction and find yourself back in saner surroundings. Would that everyone had that option!

      We ended up here because we love rural life. We wanted to be able to do things like raise chickens and keep bees--even though we live in a residential neighborhood, we're actually zoned for light agriculture, so normal is this lifestyle here--and occasionally talk about the possibility of renting a plot of land someday to maybe grow some herbs and raise some bees beyond what we can do on our little acre. I could just do without the bigotry and ignorance that seems to inevitably accompany rural life ... :^/
  • O Carroll, we should be so proud. We have finally commanded our share of the spotlight on the world stage, only to flaunt our ignorance and bigotry for all to see.

    I scrolled by that picture recently not realizing it was your Carroll County. It reminds me of the mind frame of people where I grew up. My dad was infamous as a lefty union leader there (in reality he barely made the leftwing of the Democratic Party)--adored by a tiny minority and hated and feared by the rest. I have to admit that I did not encounter much of this kind of venomous backwardness head on because people watched their mouths around me (everyone knew to whom my siblings and I belonged--an unfathomable to them scary guy with the support of an entire labor union behind him--not entirely the case in reality, but I enjoyed the benefit of their misconception!), but I read the newspaper and overheard plenty. So, I had no illusions.

    My reaction was to leave at 18 and only go back for family events. Funny thing happened on the internet a few years back; when I opened a Facebook page, I was immediately swamped by dozens of high school buddies. I liberally friended them all. But first time any one of them said a reactionary word that I caught I deleted that one instantly. No engagement, no defending basic human decency--just click--gone! without a good-bye. Ha! It felt pretty good.

    I admire you posting your response to that. No reason they should be allowed to believe than even the most isolated corners of Carroll County are monolithic in those kinds of reactionary attitudes.

    Edited at 2014-07-22 08:52 pm (UTC)
    • My sister also saw the picture but didn't connect "Westminster" with "Westminster where I go all the time when visiting Dawn and Bobby." :) As I told her, she's passed the vandalized building many times, and it is right next door to one of her favorite restaurants!

      No reason they should be allowed to believe than even the most isolated corners of Carroll County are monolithic in those kinds of reactionary attitudes.

      Bobby and I have taken the view lately that, as people who are pretty smart, then we need to stop being silent on people's bullshit. Your remark about Facebook made me laugh because we have several reactionary relatives who post uninformed bullshit all the time. They must hate Bobby because he calls them on it. (I generally stay away from Facebook. It is not a site I enjoy at all.)

      It is one thing to be conservative--that is a political leaning I can respect even if I do not agree with it--but "conservative" so often lately comes with such a panoply of straight-up lies and misinformation that I am not okay with. Debate on the issues and the facts. The fact that they so often resort to spouting purely made-up bullshit kind of says it all, imo.

      I keep meaning to post some of the writings of the current batch of baboons conservative candidates for the Carroll County school board. Tinfoil hat stuff rendered in run-on sentences.
  • Oh, I can SO identify! This state is so red us few democrats often try to keep our heads down for fear of the vitriol that will fly our way.

    "Ill eagles". *snerk*

    (BTW, isn't it ironic that the party of Americanism and capitalism and several other conservative "-isms" is now identified with the color red? I'm old enough to remember when "red" meant communism, and the slogan of those who think like most of the tea-baggers and right-wingers was "Better dead than red.")
    • I will occasionally see a car with a bumpersticker that reads, "Courage is being a Carroll County Democrat." I've always felt that this was a bit of an exaggeration. But after my experience on the Times forum, I'm starting to see where that sense came from!

      BTW, isn't it ironic that the party of Americanism and capitalism and several other conservative "-isms" is now identified with the color red?

      Lol! I hadn't thought of that but you're so right.

      And knowing what state you live in ... yeah, I can't complain. o.O Like I told Sam up-thread, drive 30 minutes in any direction here and you'll find yourself back in blue waters. We're an anomalous red (HA) patch in very blue central Maryland.
      • When we went to the peach festival I mentioned, there were politicians everywhere politicking--state and federal senate, house, district judges, commissioners. Every last one of them Rebublican. And I did not even know there were democrats running in the recent primary election. Not even ONE of them ran an ad.

        During election seasons around here it's all I can do not to throw things at my TV.
        • Maryland is a blue state, so we get both parties at the state level, but at the local level? My primary ballot was easy to fill out, as most local races were uncontested for Democrats because they either had the same number of candidates as slots, or fewer candidates than slots. Likewise, Carroll Dems don't campaign much. Not that I blame them--why waste the money? The only Maryland county with redder numbers than Carroll in the 2012 Presidential election was Garrett, which is the westernmost county in bona fide Appalachia, population 30,000.

          However, it was immensely satisfying to watch Obama win a second term and watch the same-sex marriage measure pass at the Carroll Dem's headquarters, in the heart of blood-red Carroll County ... >:^)))
  • Bleeding heart liberal is totally a real life thing. :D My dad's fond of using it to describe people (especially college professors and his liberal family members), and I'm fond of provoking people into calling me that (because I don't see it as something to be ashamed of).

    On a more serious note, coming from the same state as Oshun grew up in - it hasn't changed at all. My family, including my step-dad (who anywhere else would be a moderate) are considered bleeding heart liberals because we're for gun control, affordable health care, and don't think the 'foreigner' who owns the gas station is going to blow up our rural community for the Taliban. So you're not alone in living in a place with interesting people.

    Edited at 2014-07-23 01:57 am (UTC)
    • I don't see it as something to be ashamed of either; to paraphrase a bumpersticker I once saw, "Better a bleeding heart than none at all!" :)

      It just struck me as ... so 90s. :D

      So you're not alone in living in a place with interesting people.

      I think in terms of square mileage, most of the country is "interesting" people. Even in Maryland, more far more counties are red than blue; they just happen to be the rural counties where the population is low. The Baltimore-DC corridor is the population center and happens to be blue, which tips us into blue territory. So I'm lucky that a half-hour in any direction and I feel like I'm in Maryland again. :)
      • I like that bumpersticker! :D

        I remain firmly convinced that those type of people are still living in the 60s, so a saying from the 90s wouldn't be out of place.

        We don't have enough large populations of Democrats here in Indiana - except for the bunching around Chicago, Evansville, Indianapolis and Bloomington (with portions of the counties right around Louisville and Cincinnati), the whole state seems to lean red. I have fond memories of my roommate laughing her head off at me in the 2012 elections over my non-support of Mourdock...
  • I just… don't know what to say. I haven't been paying much attention to the news (I know, I know), so the first I heard about the children immigration problem was my parents basically agreeing with the conservate sentiments expressed. I finished making my lunch and left the kitchen without comment. (I have become very, very good at a poker face the past few years because of things like this.) They're children and there is something seriously wrong with wanting to send them back to where they'll be harmed.

    (I honestly don't know anymore where I fall on the political spectrum, but it's enough left that it's too liberal for my parents.)
    • I'm bad with keeping up with the news too. I read my NYT daily email each day. Well, skim it. That's the extent of it on some days. :^/

      One of my post-grad-school goals is to do better with keeping up with international news because I usually know what's going on in the States but the international stuff tends to fly under my radar.

      They're children and there is something seriously wrong with wanting to send them back to where they'll be harmed.

      And what boggles me is that the people advocating most strenuously for things like blocking the border with armed guards to turn kids away are the same who identify as "pro-life" or "pro-family" and advocate for things like opening town hall meetings with prayers naming Jesus as Savior. Granted, I did not delve deep into my children's Bible as an elfling, but I used to often look at the beautiful colorful painting of Jesus surrounded by capering children on the cover. Perhaps if I'd actually read it and not just admired the cover, I'd be familiar with the part where Jesus handed those kids over to be massacred in gang warfare?
      • If I check any news site, it's the BBC, so I'm slightly more informed of international news. Checking the news is iffy, simply for the fact that my ancient computer's browser crashes on many news websites. Using the family computer is risky because if I get caught on a "liberal" website, it'll be cause for the start of what amounts to a lecture on how Obama is ruining the country (only the start, because I will end the conversation before it gets going). I count myself lucky that Dad's turned on Limbaugh only a couple of times this summer! And honestly, I don't know where to turn for unbiased (if there is such a thing) or moderate news sources. But that's neither here nor there.

        Apparently, pro-life only matters before a child is born… It's more than a bit hypocritical.
  • John

    Once I initially commented I clicked the Notify me when new feedback are added checkbox and now each time a remark is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you possibly can remove me from that service? Thanks! cfdeefkbcdefgeed
  • The very idea of kicking children out of the country coming from people who surely consider themselves Christian is outrageous. I'm sure though, that many (hopefully) some people here would agree with the general immigration issue - my brother-in-law comes to mind. But no politician who hopes to have any remote chance in any election would voice those ideas, not even the far right parties. It is always surprising how extreme the mainline Republican party sounds, at least to me, almost a parody of the right wing. There's a comedian here who has a character (Micky Vanilla) that seems to take his inspiration there.
    • The Republican party here seems to be becoming increasingly radical to me, while the Democrats remain pretty moderate. I think a lot of it is conservative mass media, which often spreads blatant lies and misinformation. Ironically, the poorest states tend to be the most conservative because conservative mass media feeds their people a steady diet of content claiming that Blacks/Latinos/immigrants/urban residents are taking their money, enabled by Big Government/coastal elites/intellectuals. This results in bizarre outcomes, like people who live in states where use of government food assistance is very high and who will elect politicians who run on a platform of cutting food assistance because the people have been led to believe that the food assistance is going to the Blacks/Latinos/immigrants/city residents and not their own neighbors or even themselves. Meanwhile, corporations like Walmart make money hand over fist paying people a below-living wage, yet no one can be much bothered over that because, look! Obama! Mexicans! Welfare! Gays! Sharia law! and so on.

      The Republican party is currently also a weird mix of Christian extremists, libertarians, and laissez-faire capitalists, which results in such bizarre party platforms as making it illegal to teach sex-ed in public schools but legal to buy an assault rifle without a background check, or attempts to get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency so that corporations can dump toxins into the water supply without regulation alongside the hyper-regulation of intensely personal medical and family decisions, such as abortion, contraception, and marriage.

  • Ugh, yes, this is not (just) about immigration, this is about amnesty. YES, we should protect our borders, and YES, there are issues with gangs and drugs [and the accompanying money and weapons] crossing the border all the time.

    But I doubt these kids have anything to do with all of that. They are refugees, fleeing what might as well be a war zone. The US doesn't have the best record with granting amnesty (didn't we turn away a boat full of Jewish kids during the Holocaust?), but that doesn't mean we can't learn from those lessons!

    The liberal/conservative divide in this country is absolutely along city/country boundaries. There are uneducated people everywhere, unfortunately, but it sucks to be bludgeoned online by ignorant people. Hopefully, your friendly neighbors and fellow community members would not express such vitriol in real life....
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