On Sunday, several hundred protesters gathered outside the Yorba Linda Community Center. They were there to protest a fundraiser for a New York bases Muslim charity called the Islamic Circle of North America Relief USA. The Orange County Register’s Jan Norman reported:
Many in the crowd waved U.S. flags and carried signs saying, “God Bless America” and “No Sharia Law,”in reference to Islam’s sacred law. In the afternoon, the event had the atmosphere of a July 4 picnic. Many brought lawn chairs and blankets, sang patriotic songs and tied red, white and blue bandanas on their dogs.
As the fundraiser started, a splinter group of about 100 stood about 50 yards from the community center entrance and booed, yelled “go home” and chanted “no Sharia law” as attendees entered the building. Among their signs were ones that said “ICNA supports Hamas and Hezbollah.”
Hmm, I’m trying to remember the last July 4th picnic I attended where he atmosphere was scented with people shouting at others to go home, and in the next breath saying “God Bless America.”
Among those protesters was Orange County Republican Congressman Ed Royce(CA-40). He wrote about his excursion in Yorba Linda in a post over at RedCounty.com, Intrigue in the O.C. Royce writes:
On the Foreign Affairs Committee, I’ve tracked the growth of radical Islam, in Pakistan, Nigeria, Sudan and elsewhere. The threat of sharia law is real. It’s the death of individual liberties, especially for women.
I’ve held hearings on “Islamist terrorism,” the threat the 9/11 Commission identified. And I’ve been criticized for doing so. The Obama Administration refers to the bland threat of “violent extremism.” For years, I’ve made the point that we can’t tackle a problem if we don’t even call it by its name. 9/11, Fort Hood, Times Square and on and on demand candor.
Yet the attacks our nation has suffered aren’t the biggest threat. In a way, they’re a tactic to keep our eye off the ball, which is the “soft jihad” that the speakers in Yorba Linda preach. That is, attacking the institutions that make the U.S. great and protect our liberties. It’s an attack on our culture, including our culture of tolerance.
Culture of tolerance Ed? Really? Where are you hiding your tolerance? Mr. Royce has a simple belief, one that fits well with his simple mind. He believes that all Muslims are extremists. Again I turn to his own words:
A big part of the problem is that our children have been taught in schools that every idea is equal, that no one should criticize other’s positions, no matter how odious. That’s multiculturalism, and it has paralyzed too many of our fellow citizens to make the critical judgment we need to prosper as a society. History has taught us time after time that unfortunately bad ideas have bad consequences.
Now contrast the article by Royce today about his protest against all things Muslim with the House Homeland Security Committee hearing on February 9, 2011. In the hearing Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-47) questioned key Department of Homeland Security officials on current and emerging terrorist threats facing the United States and efforts by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to thwart such attacks. Rep. Sanchez was particularly interested in the FBI’s probes into the American Muslim communities of Orange County.
“I have the honor of representing one of the largest Arab American communities in the United States and have been very concerned in recent months by the FBI’s recent probes into our local American Muslim community and its practice of planting informants in community centers and mosques,” said Rep. Sanchez. “Director Michael Leiter of the National Counterterrorism Center assured me that actions have been taken so that law enforcement officials do not intimidate a place of worship and that enforcement agencies do not conduct any investigation that is unwarranted.”
Rep. Sanchez also expressed concern about the possibility of terrorists exploiting the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of specific countries to visit the United States for a limited amount of time without obtaining a visa. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano responded that the Visa Waiver program is very secure, given the high volume of passengers who come into the country, and that investments in Visa Overstay and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are some of the most valuable tools in the fight against terrorism.
“I am encouraged by the testimonies received here today, and I look forward to working with the Secretary in finally implementing the US-VISIT Exit System to ensure that those who enter our country, exit it is as well and do not overstay their visa. I also look forward to working with my colleagues this Congress as we determine how best to combat current and emerging terrorist threats facing the homeland.”
Two Congressmembers from central Orange County, representing two very different points of view. One voicing a message of tolerance, understanding, charity, and religious freedom, the other representing fear, hatred, and bigotry. In a statement, CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said it best:
“We thank Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez for her principled stand in voicing concern about a larger trend to marginalize and treat the American Muslim community as suspect. Engagement is a two-way street, and AmericanÂ Muslims have had an impeccable record collaborating with law enforcement agencies. Other lawmakers, including Rep. Peter King, should take the Congresswoman’s lead in working toward the goals of inclusivity and safety of all Americans, with the understanding that national security does not have to be at the expense of civil rights.”