I grew up in Yorba Linda, in the eastern part of Orange County, and loved it. I was a Brownie and then a Girl Scout, I ran cross country through the orange and avocado groves, I sold stationary door-to-door for the junior high band, and generally had what would be considered an all-American childhood. The fact that I grew up in Richard Nixon's hometown only manifested itself in my first political memory, which was my father in 1974 saying "the only thing Richard Nixon did wrong was get caught." This is going to smack of an editorial, which we have never leaned towards at Film@11. But in this case, something has happened in my wonderful place of childhood, the town where my mother still lives and I still visit nearly every month, something that is so repulsive that I actually can't sit back and pretend to be an unbiased journalist.
The fact is, I am biased. I am biased because I was in New York City on 9/11 and literally watched the towers get hit and fall. I am biased because I then spent several years traveling as a journalist throughout the Middle East and into Afghanistan. I am biased because my sources have been American soldiers, aid workers, diplomats and so many others who put themselves in literal danger in an effort to make the world a safer place. But mostly, I am biased because over the past few years, I have learned that I cannot stand to see a child in pain. And I have seen too many.
So what to think about this video from a rally at the Yorba Linda Community Center--a place, incidentally, where I was cast in "Peter Pan"? What to think of Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), who doesn't even represent Yorba Linda, speaking along with a Villa Park councilwoman (uh--what?) who cheerfully offers the services of her son and "quite a few Marines who would be very happy to help these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise"? What to think of the children walking past the shouting, red-faced crowd spewing at them?
The Southern California chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America Relief USA organized a fundraising dinner at the community center to support disaster relief and women's shelters. What met them in the parking lot was this: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6t6d9YBuFM[/youtube]
It is difficult to believe that any adult could act in this manner towards children--let alone defend it. However, that is precisely what the protest organizers are doing. They say they are not racist. Rep. Ed Royce, meanwhile, has not responded to our request for comment.
I want to think that my former neighbors and classmates will say, "Enough is enough. Hate is never acceptable." I know that one of my proudest moments, living in Brooklyn in the days after 9/11, was watching how kind people of all backgrounds treated each other, on the subway--which isn't exactly known as a place of gentility. It seems a shame that Yorba Linda, whose motto is "the Land of Gracious Living," could fall short of New York City.