Somewhere in this county right now a 14-year-old girl is confused, angry and hurting. Dragged into a bathroom at her high school and repeatedly raped, she has been violated and her humanity torn from her in a way no child should ever face.
An 18-year-old illegal immigrant stands accused of the crime along with a 17-year-old juvenile illegal immigrant – one of whom was facing deportation hearings - and because of who they are the story has taken on national significance.
Tuesday in a press briefing White House spokesman Sean Spicer, while dodging every other issue, made sure he told us how horrifying the rape was and how disgusted the administration was because of the rape. It was a perfect platform for an administration fond of telling us how dangerous illegal immigrants are to the quality of life in the U.S.
Meanwhile, locally, every two-bit political hack has jumped in on this issue – either screaming about the need to deport everyone with a Hispanic accent or the need to “Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together right now.” It’s a sentiment I personally am more closely aligned with– but I abhor those pitching it under the current circumstances.
And then there’s Robin Ficker. Enough said there.
Meanwhile there are local television stations, including Fox News, which have either deliberately misunderstood the issue to score ratings points, or have misunderstood the issue because those behind the assignment desk really have no idea what the issue is.
Much has been made of the 18- year-old being in school with a juvenile, but that isn’t an unusual situation, nor is the special program in which the young man was enrolled.
But for those who oppose Rockville and Montgomery County’s “Sanctuary” leanings this issue is ripe for exploitation and the facts are not necessarily important to them. They want to feel safe. They want guarantees. They want retribution and some want revenge.
County Executive Ike Leggett has promised to assist ICE agents. County councilman Roger Berliner understands the issue will be used to defend President Trump’s immigration stance.
Meanwhile, late Tuesday Spicer said even though there is a significant federal investment in Montgomery County – an understatement – the administration had no plans to single out the County for retribution for its stance against cooperating with immigration officials.
That, of course, could change if more pressure is brought on the county.
People from Help Save Maryland are intent on putting that pressure on the county and Berliner said he’s received emails from constituents angry with what occurred.
But this isn’t a political issue. It shouldn’t be – and everyone who is involved in politicizing it should be ashamed of themselves for doing so. Demonizing everyone who is Hispanic for the alleged acts of two young men is not only excessive but an act of racism and bigotry.
Going after the school system – while tempting – underscores the fact that you really don’t understand the issue at all. There is absolutely nothing the school system can do to guarantee this type of action will not take place. It has happened before and it will happen again. It doesn’t happen very often, thankfully, and the school system has grown better at reacting.
At The Sentinel we remember all too well a young woman who was sexually abused at Magruder High School. She was drugged and taken out into the bushes behind the football field and her abductors and abusers brought an endless stream of students from the school to witness their handiwork – for several hours. Real Lord of the Flies stuff.
It was a decade ago and where was the community outcry then? Could it be the perpetrators were white and therefore the screams were muted? You bet.
The fact is these things happen very infrequently. They’re catastrophic. They’re tragic. But when Governor Larry Hogan jumps in with inappropriate comments (which he most certainly did), Fox News corners the head of the school system asking inane questions and the White House tosses its opinion into the mix, all the fear mongering and fury tend to make us forget the most important part of this issue.
There is a 14-old-girl suffering. She may be angry and she may want justice, but I am willing to bet she doesn’t care for the political hurricane surrounding what happened to her.
Fear, anger and racism cure nothing. Prosecute those charged to the fullest extent of the law.
But if you want to make a difference keep your fear and hatred to yourself – and learn to respect all women a lot more.