I've spent quite a bit of time, both on this site and my own, over the last few years commenting on and calling out some of the more virulent strains of anti-Muslim hate speech out there, be it from media pundits or anti-mosque protesters or crazed comic book artists. Usually, even though their rhetoric is rooted in the cement of prejudice, these folks tend to be so overheated and ridiculous that one can't help but poke fun and make merry sport of them. Then I see things like this, and it frankly doesn't leave me in a very fun mood.
As a communications instructor, one thing I try to drive home to my students -- and that I truly, fundamentally believe -- is that no matter how vehement our disagreements may be, we can (usually) come to some accord, or at least some understanding, if we try to view each other not as opposing ideologies to conquer, but simply as people who we don't know. But videos like the one above remind me of the bracing reality that sometimes folks hate just to hate. Because they can. Because it's all they have.
For some background, this is footage of a protest rally in Orange County outside of a fundraiser held by ICNA -- the Islamic Circle of North America -- to raise money for the poor and orphans in the area. As attendees -- mostly families, including young children -- from the local Muslim community file into the center where the event is being held, you can hear the jeers of derision and hate: "You beat your women?" "You rape your children?" "Why don't you go beat up your wife like you do every night?" None of that, unfortunately, is all that surprising, but what is surprising is the people who are there to cheer them on.
Witness this quote from Deborah Pauly, a local councilwoman, speaking to the gathered horde:
Let me tell you what's going on over there is pure, unadulterated evil. And I don't care... I don't even care if you think I'm crazy any more. I have a beautiful daughter. I have a wonderful 19-year-old son who is a U.S. Marine. In fact, I know quite a few Marines who would be happy to send these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise.
All that from an elected official who represents a community that I'm reasonably certain has at least a few Muslims living in it. And she's saying it about women, children, and families who are there to help the poor. You take rhetoric like this, draped in the trappings of patriotism but anti-American to its deeply-bigoted core, and you wonder if people like Pauly and her ilk, be they the protesters or her fellow politicos, would even grasp the clear irony that her speech and those like it embody the very same hatred and bigotry she seems to think she's railing against when calling her fellow citizens -- her neighbors -- "pure, unadulterated evil."
Vile. Just vile.