The Wall Street Journal today reported (subscription required) that the clash erupted after the Kansas City Star outed Frances Semler, 73, who believes "...very strongly in obeying the law," as a Minutemen member. It didn't take long, the Journal reported, for the ruckus to start:
The city's National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Coalition of Hispanic Organizations, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Jewish Community Relations Bureau held a new conference on June 14 to9 condemn the appointment. Later that day, the city council, voting 9 to 3 adopted a resolution calling for Mrs. Semler's removal from the parks board.
Beth Gottstein, a board member who voted for the removal, said, quite predictably, "This is about racism and divisiveness--everything we are not supposed to be about."
In case you're confused, as I was, Gottstein wasn't talking about her vote to oust someone from the board because of her views and associations ("Are you or have you ever been a member of the Minutemen?). Bouncing someone off a public body because of her views and affiliations smacks of the old Communist witchhunts and feels like the kind of divisiveness that violates the First Amendment. No, Gottstein was talking about Semler's views and affiliations, which are not illegal and, to many Americans, not even offensive.
Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser, who appointed Semler, is standing by her woman, refusing to remove her. "Diversity," he said succinctly , "is also about the diversity of views."