The way the young woman with the flaming-red hair sees it, the War on Terror should make an immigrant-hater out of any leftist.
"I thought I used to be liberal," the Fullerton resident says, her backpack a marquee of her abandoned politics—a rainbow patch and an alien giving the peace sign. "I used to believe in welfare, peace and helping out the poor. But if you allow unfettered immigration, this is what happens."
She points to an anti-immigration pamphlet with a picture of the exploding Twin Towers.
Such reasoning finds an especially receptive audience at meetings of the fanatically anti-immigration California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR).
The former liberal was one of about 250 people who packed CCIR's Garden Grove meeting room Nov. 27 to hear syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin promote her new book, Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores.
In the book, Malkin goes after the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Muslims and Latinos. She dismisses claims that anti-Muslim hate crimes rose after Sept. 11 (Muslims, she said, invoked a "hate-crime mantra") and blames Latino day laborers for the Twin Towers attack.
A Filipina-American, Malkin is best known hereabouts for her opinion column, syndicated for three years in The Orange County Register. But she has won national celebrity for her role as a kind of female Clarence Thomas. She recently explained Christina Aguilera's new look as the bitter fruit of a "radical feminist sexual liberation" movement that has produced "a generation of shameless skanks." She has blasted indigenous Hawaiians' efforts to gain U.S. tribal recognition by observing, "Some people will do anything to get their hands on federal wampum."
Like fellow model minorities Thomas Sowell, Dinesh D'Souza and Linda Chavez, Malkin's hostile attitudes make her a darling of white conservatives, and her photogenic face ensures regular appearances on talk shows.
Malkin took the stage after being introduced to a who's-who of local anti-immigrant activists (including infamous Anaheim cop Harald Martin, who later in the evening would call his police chief a "coward"). CCIR chairwoman Barbara Coe—dressed in a baptism-day white blazer—noted that Malkin was "born to Philippine parents who came to the U.S.—legally, I might add." Much applause ensued.
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"You here know full well or probably more than any other region of the country that this illegal invasion has been taking place a lot longer than Sept. 11, 2001," Malkin began dramatically. "If not, then your eyes were opened for the first time when those planes hit the buildings that killed thousands of Americans on American soil. Illegal invaders have been doing that for a long time."
She spent the remainder of her 20-minute speech faulting the mainstream press for ignoring illegal immigrant-caused murders. ("They're all too happy to tell the sob stories of poor illegal immigrants," Malkin asserted. "We get plenty of those stories. And how come those journalists get Pulitzer Prizes?!") She frequently seemed on the verge of tears.
Malkin repeatedly stressed that she wasn't anti-immigrant, just anti-illegal invader. "Not only is [illegal immigration] the ruination of us culturally and economically, but what an insult it is to all the naturalized citizens here!" she told the mostly white audience, many wearing stickers proclaiming themselves "citizen." But Malkin proceeded to mock these same "good" immigrants—because as a good minority, she can. She told jokes about Ethiopians and—in the interests of equal time—a similar howler about a Swede.
Having built her rapport with the audience on a foundation of ethnic jokes and terror, she concluded with a story about her trip to Orange County: "When I told people I was coming here, there were some people from the mainstream media who said, 'You shouldn't go there. Those people are way out there,' they told me. And I said, 'I'm way out there with them!'"