The Village Idiots Are Everywhere

February 20, 2006
Print
Text Size:
A A

Grand Rapids has every expectation that it will draw and retain an educated work force, creating a community that young people believe is “cool” and that offers the quality of life seeded in the arts, entertainment and intellectual pursuits.

Recent proceedings before metro area school boards — school boards! — provide an instant reversal of such fortune, a betrayal to the majority of fellow residents. This is such self-serving idiocy one is sure that it has not occurred to the perpetrators that they are behaving in a manner marking themselves as uneducated.

The village idiots are everywhere. They have commandeered microphones in East Grand Rapids to complain of the “criminal element” they fear will find out there is an East GR (not because MapQuest exists but because of the fundraising blockbuster success of the Parade of Homes). More recently the parents of children pulling stupid Internet stunts are looking for the fellow among them who “ratted” on their kids to the school superintendent. Those EGR parents deserve the same suspension their children earned, suspension of their citizenship for failing to define it. Last year it was the Forest Hills Public Schools parents who embarrassed the superintendent, fearing the schools were “too” diverse.

Now comes the debacle of Grand Rapids Public Schools selecting a new superintendent. Some parents in the district railed against candidate Colin Armstrong because he is Canadian (some say Canadian was a euphemism for the words “white man”). Board President Amy McGlynn proved her leadership in standing up to the crowd and affirming that the school board would not discriminate against any person for place of birth … race or gender. Board member Jim Rinck was rightfully quick to note the distasteful behavior as hurtful to the entire community.

Then again, considering the behavior of parents in the closest suburbs to Grand Rapids the past few months, one begins to understand how racism and dim-witted comment perpetuate and escalate.

It seems the city commission, too, will travel this path. Mayor George Heartwell will have the honor of naming candidates and voting for a replacement for Commissioner Robert Dean, who announced his election bid to the state House. Heartwell proclaimed he anticipates appointment of an African American … no, female African American to the seat. (The commissioners also each have a vote on any replacement.) Such comment prior to the posting of even one individual precludes choices, the choice of those of any race to enter. It also impairs the credibility of any successor who is of that gender and race. Does one feel successful as the best candidate, or the best African American, female candidate available? And it is quite likely that all “fields of interest” can be satisfied, but the process has been corrupted.

The extreme of these positions is not good for anyone.    

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus