Vern Nelson’s “Parody” Attack on Anaheim’s Avelino Valencia Crosses a Racist Line; Silence from Some Who Shouldn’t Be
By Dan Chmielewski on November 1, 2020
On Friday, I got a text that Orange Juice Blogger had launched an attached on DPOC-endorsed Democratic Candidate for Anaheim District 4, Avelino Valencia. Nelson’s attack was in the form of a You Tube video that mocks Valencia with a “parody” of the traditional Mexican folk song that should disgust any California resident and particularly those of Mexican-American heritage.
The song claims Avelino — born and raised in Anaheim, married to a woman from Anaheim, a Katella High graduate — is somehow a carpetbagger from Long Beach and a kleptocrat — code for anyone in OC the OJ blog crowd hates. Pretty rich considering Nelson says he is “the white guy from Anna Drive” even though he’s spent most of his life in Huntington Beach.
Yep. I think its pretty racist. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s a few choice words about this from various elected and activist Democrats in OC.
We’ll start with Garden Grove council member Kim Nguyen:
Over the last 24hrs (let’s be honest, throughout most of this election) I’ve seen some extremely disturbing content being shared.
In Anaheim fellow democrats are circling like vultures around Avelino Valencia. Aside from harassing his wife at work, they have now created and shared this extremely racist video (only screenshot of the video is shared as I would rather not give this trash anymore views). Taking a widely known Mexican folklore song and gutting it to attack a young Mexican candidate is despicable.
In Santa Ana individuals have used a deeply traumatic incident that occurred a few months ago within the Dem party to attack the only Vietnamese candidate, Thai Viet Phan. They’ve deliberately lied about her position on issues and displayed tokenism to confuse voters.
In Garden Grove we see a particular group asking for my deportation, another group claiming I am not truly Vietnamese and another group stooping to lies and false claims in an attempt to stiffle the voice of East Garden Grove.
It is one thing to agree to disagree on politics, personal beliefs and who to vote for, but it’s something entirely different to do what we see occurring this election cycle. The hypocrisy is intolerable. The very folks calling out this administration, calling for solidarity or compassion, are the very folks slinging mud and manipulating narratives for their own advantage while lying through their teeth to the public.
Watch the behavior/tactics of the candidates you are voting for. Look at how their campaigns are being run and who is supporting them. Certain former/current elected officials have either indirectly or directly worked with individuals on these attacks (Jose F. Moreno, Ryan Anthony Ruelas, Miguel Pulido, Roman Reyna, Phat Bui, George Brietigam).
Many will claim they were unaware or had nothing to do with it, then why not denounce it? I understand that we cannot control our supporters or others. But as leaders we should discourage any form of violence, abuse, bullying, threats, etc.
Your vote has never been more important. Please do not be fooled by gimmicky or racist videos. Don’t take hitpieces as fact. Google, ask others, or contact candidates directly! I encourage those who live in Anaheim District 4 to vote for Avelino Valencia. He has my full support. I know he will continue to work tirelessly for his community. Through firsthand experience I know he is someone you can count on no matter what.
Those in Santa Ana Ward 1 to vote for Thai Viet Phan. She is one of the smartest people I know and someone I turn to for healthy debate in order to gain better understanding. I hope to have the opportunity to work with her over the next four years for both of our cities.
This is it… 4 more days y’all! Make it count.
Spot on for Nguyen to call out Moreno and Ruelas on this; I’ll add Al Jabbar to the list. Moreno responded saying he denounced Nelson’s tactics but asked Nguyen to call to discuss (to keep if off Facebook I’m sure). Ruleas also denounced it but tipped his hand with more detail by writing: “Kim Nguyen, I don’t believe Avelino is the best candidate for Anaheim City Council BUT I certainly don’t support this type of shenanigans nor do any of the other volunteers who are working on the same campaign as me. Questioning a candidate on where he/she stands, however, does not constitute bullying, which I definitely do and strongly encourage voters to do as well. But in regards to actions such as this, I definitely denounce this type of behavior.”
I’m almost certain Moreno and Jabbar share Ruelas’ position on Avelino. I’ll note that none of Moreno’s Anaheim city council candidates earned the DPOC endorsement and he and I will disagree about the honesty of District 5’s Ken Batiste.
DPOC Member Allyson Vincent also chimed in with “We still have a lot of work to do inside our own Party. It’s one thing to disagree on policies and strategies, but the continued in-group/out-group divisions based on ethnicity and SES are beyond disheartening. We need to continue to look inside ourselves and do better. At the minimum, though, resorting to GOP-like tactics using race baiting shouldn’t even be on the table. It’s beyond time to call out the consultants and campaigns that do this. Thank you for again spotlighting ways we Dems need to improve.”
And there’s Anaheim City Council member Jordan Brandman:
From the implied wanted poster to the black-and-white overlay to the implication that Avelino is a bandit riding into town, it draws on all the worst, racist caricatures of our brothers and sisters of Mexican heritage. I’m shocked he had the self-restraint to not draw on a handlebar mustache and sombrero. It’s disgusting, it’s racist, and it’s wrong.
For years, Avelino has served Anaheim residents and done it with integrity. I’m not talking about his service as a city commissioner, although that’s laudable. I’m talking about his job as a caseworker for the State Assembly. His job – literally – is to take calls from Anaheim constituents and get them the help they need. Every day, he spends hours on the phone with bureaucrats in Sacramento trying to get laid-off residents the unemployment insurance they’ve paid into and desperately need, to get struggling small businesses help with their sales tax bills, and even to help families make sure their relatives in youth facilities and correctional facilities are getting the healthcare they need and deserve as human beings. It is truly the Lord’s work, and anyone who demeans the service of someone who does this work is spitting in the face of the many Anaheimers whom he’s helped.
Vern calls Avelino a carpetbagger, I suppose because for all his claimed moral superiority he thinks fear of outsiders is good politics. Tell me, if Avelino grew up in Anaheim and graduated from Katella High School, how can he possibly be a carpetbagger from Long Beach? If he is married to a fellow lifelong Anaheimer – who herself teaches in our schools – is he a carpetbagger? His family, friends, and life are all Anaheim, as they always have been. Avelino’s not a carpetbagger, he’s a neighbor.
And as if his racist screed against Avelino wasn’t enough, Vern had to throw in a reference to “Dirty Sidhu” under a photo of Mayor Harry Sidhu. You don’t need to sit in a graduate seminar to know in your gut that when we say someone’s dirty, it very often implies that he or she is different, other, and inferior. Oppressed groups throughout history have been marginalized with and discriminated against on the basis of their hygiene, of being called “dirty.” From Hitler’s rants against dirty Jews to customs agents throwing burning delousing powder on arriving immigrants at Ellis Island and braceros along the southern border, from Know-Nothings inciting violence against allegedly dirty and diseased Irish and Chinese immigrants to the East India Company using the language of faux-hygiene and health to justify the subjugation of the Indian people, one thing is clear: When someone calls someone “dirty,” he does it to achieve an effect, to create a monster in the reader’s mind. And that effect, that image is so intertwined with hundreds of years of racist representations that it cannot be read outside of that context. Like his politics or not, Mayor Harry Sidhu is a human being who deserves better – as we all do – than to be reduced to a two-word racist moniker.
Yes, I’m angry. I’m disgusted. But I’m also heartbroken. Vern clearly believes that anything said in pursuit of the right (or his conception of it, in any case) is pure and admissible by extension. Well, it’s not. None of us has a monopoly on morality: the ends do not justify the means. As progressives and liberals, we should know better. Maybe we don’t.
Here’s what I do know. I’m proud to call Avelino Valencia my friend, and I’m proud to support him. But more than that, Avelino is a fellow Anaheimer who deserves better than this.
Avelino Valencia for Anaheim City Council 2020
Santa Ana Activist Tish Leon:
“I don’t live in Anaheim, but I support Avelino Valencia III, he has always supported and helped us Seniors in Santa Ana.. I hope he gets elected, Anaheim needs honest politicians!”
SAUSD Trustee Valerie Amezcua:
“I have called upon Avelino Valencia III for assistance in Santa Ana on many occasions and without hesitation he has stepped up. If I lived in Anaheim I would vote for him and I am asking my friends and family to vote for him.”
Democratic consultant Derek Humphrey:
“…Taking a widely known Mexican folklore song and gutting it to attack Avelino Valencia, a first-time Democratic candidate of Mexican descent, is pretty despicable. I think the fact that the attack is coming from other “Democrats” makes it even worse. Sad stuff, but I think Anaheim voters are gonna see right through it.”
DNC Member Melahat Rafiei said: “It’s sad to see this happening …. who needs Republicans when we have Dem on Dem nastiness like this.”
TheLiberalOC denounces Nelson’s racist attack as well. As of Sunday night at 8:30 PM, Nelson’s YouTube video is still posted. Maybe someone could call Nelson’s wife, who is Mexican-American, and have her explain to him why his parody is racist.