publisher's note
September 7, 2007


 

 

Semler must go
by Bruce Rodgers

Is there something in the air (besides pollution)? Only in Kansas City would a relatively minor mayoral appointment to a park board raise the ire of two national civil rights organizations while fluttering the beating hearts of diehard conservatives everywhere.

If Francis Semler, hereinbefore an obscure nice-old-lady community and anti-immigration activist, really cared about the city she lives in, she would resign from the park board and insist Mayor Funkhouser accept it.

Kansas City needs Semler to go, and she should step up to let this controversy die. Curiously, she might then be seen as a heroine from both sides, those against illegal immigration and those who consider anti-immigration groups a haven for racists.

If not, then Funkhouser should then risk the ire of his wife Gloria (probably more intense then La Raza and the NAACP) and discreetly insist to Semler that she must resign.

Principle is great, Mr. Mayor, but it’s no replacement for leadership.
(Unfortunately, the comparisons between you and Semler and Bush and Gonzales aren’t that far off. And like Bush, your stand on principle only divides, it does not enlighten.) It’s up to Funkhouser to put an end to this, especially since Semler has publicly declared she has no intention of resigning.

One has to wonder if Semler is beginning to like the spotlight and particularly the attention this controversy is bringing to the Minutemen Civil Defense Corp. Such a brouhaha can’t hurt their recruitment. Illegal immigration is hard to defend and the cover the argument sometimes gives racists is not easily presentable to most people tuned to just the simple what’s legal or what’s not.

It’s easy to speculate that Semler may be making her way up the A list of speakers (if she hasn’t already) on hot-button issues like immigration. On the podium before anti-immigration groups she can recount her battle, using the opportunity to defend the mission of the Minutemen and speak breathlessly of being intimated by a group of liberal churchgoers coming to her home seeking her resignation.

It’s all great theater — emotions tied to the irrationality of Latinos stealing jobs, terrorists hiding in trucks crossing the border and the English language sullied in its home country — where terms like “free speech,” “diversity” and “following the law” get poisoned by ideology and gamesmanship as to who can command the media stage and for how long. All of it, the way it’s been presented by the local news organizations and how its being mishandled by the mayor, is the kind of red-meat droppings made-to-order for talk radio and right-wing cable pundits.

Contrary to what may be the conventional thinking, I don’t think La Raza or the NAACP particularly relishes this fight. It does nothing for their image to wield an economic stick by threatening to pull their conventions. The moral argument about people seeking economic betterment for themselves and their families doesn’t get much attention, including from either Semler or Funkhouser.

Seeking Semler’s resignation may reinforce their base, but the leaders of La Raza and the NAACP want more for their organizations that appeasing current members and sympathizers. They want a say in the immigration policy of this country and responding to Semler’s membership with the Minutemen is part of that approach.

As mayor, supposedly someone operating within the political sphere, Funkhouser seems oblivious to that fact. All he can see is “principle,” which can be translated into not offending certain constituents or his wife, or both.

This Semler/Funkhouser/La Raza/NAACP affair is going to fester until Semler goes. The minority community, many in the church community and La Raza and the NAACP aren’t going to brush this aside easily, especially as it seems Semler is digging in to stay.

But, if nothing else, maybe she can get the Minutemen to hold their convention in Kansas City.

Bruce Rodgers can be contacted at publisher_editeKC@kcactive.com.


              
              
                 

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