A Howard County teen-ager chose Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday to distribute white supremacist newspapers in Columbia, a town he claims has been "brainwashed" into racial and religious acceptance. Over the past couple of months, similar newsletters have found their way onto lawns in other Columbia neighborhoods. An all-black church in Mount Airy was ransacked by vandals on three separate occasions. Just last month, a 14-year-old black girl was sprayed with a can of Lysol on a county school bus. The number of racial, religious and ethnic incidents in Howard County has increased fourfold since the late '80s.
Members of the local branch of the NAACP complain that the county is looking the other way. The Ecker administration counters that it is "exceedingly concerned" about these incidents. In a statement this month, County Executive Charles I. Ecker noted that "every time one of these hate incidents is allowed to occur, it victimizes all our citizens."
If Mr. Ecker is serious -- and we believe he is -- these regrettable displays of intolerance should be immediately addressed. One move in that direction would be finding someone to head the Office of Human Rights, which has remained rudderless since late last year.