Local talk radio show hosts Mike Shanin and Scott Parks recently hosted Rita Valenciano, head of the bi-state Coalition of Hispanic Organizations. Valenciano’s career is one of constant Hispanic rights and benefits advocacy. From her bio:
Valenciano currently serves as Executive Director of APOYO (Assistance to Parents of Youth Organization), a family support and education program serving predominantly Spanish speaking families who are low income and high-risk in Wyandotte County, Kansas. …
As the owner of Valenciano and Associates since 1995, Rita facilitates diversity, dispute resolution and strategic planning workshops and seminars. She began her professional involvement in this field as one of the first Harmony facilitators in 1988. Kansas City Harmony is an initiative conceived through the efforts of former Mayor Emmanuel Cleaver to lead the KC area to greater diversity awareness.
Nothing wrong with or surprising about that. She is Hispanic, and she sees opportunity in pushing special interests that benefit the Hispanic community. That is the nature of a multicultural society–you act in accordance with the interests of your ethnic and racial peers.
What is noteworthy, however, are some of the things she said on the show. Specifically, when asked about KCMO Mayor Mark Funkhouser’s stubborn refusal to ax Frances Semler in the face of economic threats from La Raza, Valenciano claimed that the Minutemen had committed several “rapes and murders” of Hispanic immigrants throughout the country. Parks, the more paleoconservative of the two hosts, asked where she was getting her information for such serious charges from, and if she could point to a specific incident. Of course she could not. When also pressured from Shanin, she offered a website that supposedly had all the goods on the criminals.
Even if the accusations were true, that should taint Semler about as much as William Jefferson’s freezer money should color the perception of Dennis Moore. The organization both belong to does not condone the bad behavior in any way, and the vast majority of its members do not engage in it.
That said, see the evidence Valenciano points to for yourself. The site does not provide legal briefs, court cases, or even commentary. It contains videos of ‘untward’ behavior on the part of Minutemen (or at least they are claimed to be–with the exception of one video, there is nothing that identifies any of the people in the clips as such). The most legally questionable video is the one you see upon entering the site. Rapists and murderers for sure! More like working class whites who feel the illegal immigrant presence more than anyone else, caught expressing their frustration in crass ways. The majority of the clips involve anger directed at the cameraman, who has been hovering around the ralliers for hours. There is no physical violence at all. None.
Amazing that such baseless accusations are made by a prominent figure in the call to have Semler removed. The Kansas City Star and Tony’s Kansas City, the two leading media outlets in the Semler hunt, have thus far failed to report on Valenciano’s outrageous slander. In the case of the latter, it’s particularly unsurprising though, as the eponymous Tony of TKC (Missouri’s most influential political blog) is Valenciano’s son, and like his mother, a committed Hispanic activist who viscerally opposed Mark Funkhouser in the mayoral election last November.
I should start deleting comments again but the fact that this is posted on my jokey, dumbass blog makes me smile in my pants.
It is from this profound source that the top search result for “Frances Semler” leads. If you are so inclined, my initial take on the Semler saga is currently the second item returned, and has bounced back and forth between the top spot. Any bolstering linkage that might send a curious person to a sober evaluation of the situation before being bombarded with character smears (unsubstantiated save for Semler’s Minutemen membership) directed at Semler and, by extension Funkhouser, would be helpful.
The whole sordid affair will blow over. Funkhouser is politically recalcitrant, and towering at 6’8”, he’s not one to be easily intimidated. He’ll stand by the 73 year-old Parks and Recreation board commissioner and grandmother just as he will stand by another appointment to the same position of a black man who founded the local chapter of an organization that supports reparations and black separatist education, if any of the major media players ever find that worth mentioning.