The clamor outside is made scarier by the fact that it's muffled, as if the kids next door are watching a slasher-flick at full blast. Felt in the stomach and feet: an incessant, pulse-heightening pound, bass-heavy and rhythmic from the stomping and drumming. Leaking through the doors into the ears: unintelligible barking, harsh talk, car horns and the occasional awful shriek.
To the "patriots" at the California Coalition for Immigration Reform's special meeting about "THE DEADLY THREAT OF ISLAM TO AMERICA," within the yellowing walls of the Garden Grove Womens Club, it sounds like jihad. The noisy Muslims outside aren't protesters; they're evidence. When the patriots entered the building, all they saw was a group of about 20 kids, standing on Chapman Avenue with signs and flags. But more than an hour into Wednesday's meeting -- the first CCIR gathering featuring a panel of speakers from the anti-Muslim Act! for America organization -- the racket outside becomes unmistakable in light of the information the guest speakers present: It must be the roar of a brown mob ululating, shouting "Death to Amerikkka!" in brusque Farsi, Molotov-ing Cadillac and impaling random passers-by.
But these patriots will be strong, they will be brave, they will as be fearless as Christmas. Christmas Atanous -- that's the woman up on stage, behind the eagle-adorned lectern, the slightly swarthy lady with to-the-shoulder Cleopatra hair and turquoise eyeshadow. She's incredible: Born in Iran as an Assyrian Christian (yes, they speak the same language as Jesus!), she endured unspeakable suffering at the hands of Muslims. She's seen family members murdered. She was forced to read that "unholy book," the Koran. She lived in a society where a Christian life was worth less -- literally worth less, she says -- than a donkey. So she came to America, the best nation on Earth.
"We no longer slept with our eyes wide open, because we were safe and secure in the country of freedom and democracy," she says, her accent angular but flowing, each word smooth and hard. "And yes, in the beginning I did have nightmares when I came to the United States... My nightmare was that I was still living in that country. How sweet it was that I would wake up, sweaty, knowing that I was in this country and not in that hell."
She pauses, and in the pause all those assembled remember the horde outside, its presumably vulgar whistles and shouts trickling in.
"But you know, I think my nightmare, in a way, is coming true. Because little by little..."
In the front row, a woman with long gray hair and a red-and-green flannel scarf offers this: "Yeah."
"...day by day, Muslims are entering this country."
The front-row woman: "That's true."
"Since 9/11, there are more Muslims in this country and Europe. And why is that? Have you asked yourself why? These are the same people who hate Westerners. These are the same people who hate our culture. These are the same people who hate our churches, our synagogues."
The man sitting next to the scarf-wearing woman, his hair white, his half-globe belly tight against his white t-shirt, bellows: "To take over!"
Christmas looks at him and takes on the tone of a congratulatory teacher.
"Exactly. They want to take over. It's the invasion. You see there is a plan, and the plan was
designed a long time ago and it is in the works. We are all sleeping. We are not doing anything. I used to be so concerned about taxes. About finding a bigger home. About the environment. About animals. Those are not my concerns now."
The woman in the front has taken to murmuring, over and over, "That's right."
"No. The bigger danger in our country nowadays, the problem that we're facing nowadays, is that the media is helping them to succeed. And the media has brainwashed everyone, little by little, and you don't even know what you're doing or why you're being brainwashed. The political correctness and being tolerant is our worst enemy."
The patriots applaud.
"We have to rise. We have to speak out. And most importantly, we have to be fearless." Her voice booms as she points towards the wall. "I am NOT afraid of those people out there!"
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To which the audience whoops, claps, and unleashes a chorus of "no way!"
"I am not afraid!" Her voice drops again as she prepares to make what she just said into a lie. "I am afraid of the day they take over. I am afraid of the day that I wear chador. I am afraid of the day that I can no longer enjoy the environment."
Then, the call to action, the call to lobby for a stated objective -- the end of all immigration from Muslim countries into America -- that, if achieved, would make stories like Christmas's impossible.
"So, we need to rise."