Carroll County officially disses King

This Just In...

February 12, 1999|By DAN RODRICKS

Joseph Mish, a member of the school board that eliminated the King holiday for Carroll County pupils, says he hopes that we don't perceive any sinister motivation in the board's action. But in an interview with The Sun two days ago, he gave himself away with the radio talk show rhetoric of someone who wishes Martin Luther King Jr. had never been honored with a holiday: ``Sooner or later we're going to have 40 or 50 days on the [school] calendar to honor whoever comes down the pike.''

Martin Luther King Jr., whoever, whatever.

They're holding the line against gratuitous holidays in Carroll County. The school kids there are now the only ones in Maryland required to attend class on the day set aside to honor the slain civil rights leader.

Welcome to Black History Month!

Mish can wish till he's blue in the gills that we don't perceive any negative motivations, but his words are dismissive and insulting. By scrapping the holiday, the Carroll County school board has officially dissed King and all that he symbolizes.

This kind of stuff gives me a headache.

We already went through a debate about designating a holiday for MLK. It was during the Reagan years, remember? The Dis King crowd believed he was unworthy of a holiday, a commie sympathizer on whom J. Edgar Hoover's FBI had kept files. Some opponents gave the same argument Mish offered the other day: Pupils shouldn't get a day off. They should be in school, learning about King. ``I think if Martin Luther King were to walk into this room he would be appalled that kids were not being instructed in what he stood for.''

Sincere? Maybe.

But I don't remember that point being made about national holidays until King Day came up for consideration.

Wasn't this debate settled in 1986? Didn't the nation, through Congress, decide that it was fitting and proper to honor Martin Luther King Jr. with a holiday? Didn't we finally decide that King was a great American who pointed the way to a noble ideal? Don't we want our children to think that King's struggle - and his ultimate sacrifice - to make freedom ring for every American is worthy of annual recognition?

It's not just a matter of political correctness. It's a matter of history, perspective, reverence.

Which gets us to the other part of this dopey school board decision - dropping Washington's Birthday, commonly referred to as Presidents Day, honoring both George Washington and Abe Lincoln. (Dare we suspect that Prez's Day went off the Carroll calendar to offset reaction to the dissing of King?)

If the board is looking to keep kids in school as many days as possible, then why grant them any holidays?

Labor Day? That's a commie-inspired, workers-of-the-world holiday, right? Who needs it?

Memorial Day? Too commercialized. Kids should be in school studying history instead of cruising malls and the boardwalk at Ocean City.

Fourth of July? Occurs in the summer, of course. But if we ever get an extended school year, there'll be no need to have it off because the fireworks are at night.

Christmas? A religious holiday in violation of church-state separation. Public schools shouldn't be closed anyway.

Thanksgiving? I'm tired of turkey. If kids want to celebrate Thanksgiving, let them do it in the cafeteria.

Training for friendly IRS

Recently, Internal Revenue Service employees have been schooled in agency reforms designed to turn the IRS into a friendlier, fairer tax collector. They're required by the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, which grew out of those nationally televised Senate hearings that featured taxpayers and IRS employees relating tales of agency abuses.

Since the start of the year, IRS employees have been briefed on the reforms, which set out rules of conduct during investigations or audits of taxpayers. The training manual sets out, in simple language, 10 reasons why an IRS employee can be dismissed. The one that sticks out is Section 1203(b)(2): ``Providing a sworn false statement in a material matter concerning a taxpayer.''

President Pinocchio signed that into law last summer.

Valentine's suggestions

Romantic suggestions for Valentine's Day: Stay home, move the coffee table, throw a blanket on the floor, have dinner and a movie - tortellini with a simple marinara sauce, a couple of glasses of Chianti, cannolis from Vaccaro's, ``Cinema Paradiso'' or ``Lady and the Tramp'' on the VCR. Or, take a stroll on Charles Street. Thumb through the CD racks and sample music at An Die Musik. Climb the 228 steps to the top of the Washington Monument, catch your breath and make out. (Assuming, of course, there's nobody else already there. Assuming, of course, you have someone to make out with.)

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