Brigitte Gabriel, founder of the Act! for America anti-Muslim hate group, embarked on a months-long speaking tour in March that, of course, had a stop in Orange County along the way. On the road promoting her newest screed Rise: In Defense of Judeo-Christian Values and Freedom, Gabriel spoke to the coffin-dodging crowd assembled at the Laguna Woods Performing Arts Center on July 18. And by the way the featured speaker told it, she just couldn’t wait to come to OC.
“I was looking forward this whole week to get here,” Gabriel told the audience.
Carol Blanchard, the Laguna Woods Republican Club president, had the honors of kicking off the night organized with the help of Act! for America chapters in Laguna Woods and Mission Viejo.
The otherwise free event was closed to media. Attendants had to reserve seats in advance and show valid identification before entering the 814-seat theater. Obviously spooked by consuming too much right-wing media, event organizers listed do’s and don’ts, including no face covering (was that for antifa or out of Islamophobia?).
Everything seemed to run smoothly enough allowing Gabriel to power through a 40-minute speech thrilling the white-haired crowd on a Thursday night. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the hate group leader’s latest tome is a cautionary tale against changing demographics in these United States. “All cultures are not equal,” she writes. “In the West we celebrate life. In the Islamic world they celebrate death.”
As Gabriel is known to do, she spoke on those themes to the Laguna Woods crowd by recounting with her upbringing in Lebanon during the civil war, including a targeted bombing against her Christian family where she was injured. Beirut was the “Paris of the Middle East” until Palestinian refugees arrived. “We took them in,” she said. “That’s when they started the massacres.”
There was no mention of the Sabra and Shatila massacre of 1982 that followed the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, of course. That’s when a Christian Lebanese militia wantonly killed scores of Palestinian refugees.
Two years later, Gabriel moved to Israel before immigrating to the United States in 1989. When the September 11 terrorist attacks happened, Gabriel’s life purpose shifted again. “In 2001, the greatest threat to America was radical Islamic terrorism,” she said. “Antifa did not exist. Black Lives Matter did not exist. MS-13 gang members were not roaming the streets the way they are roaming around.” (quick aside: not only did Gabriel casually lump a bunch of groups in with Al-Qaeda, but MS-13 was very much around before 2001 only the South OC crowd would never know that!).
A few years later, Act for America! was founded, a group Gabriel claims helped pass 103 bills at the state and federal level.
Gabriel gabbed on invoking the Squad–four progressive Democrat congresswomen–to loud boos in the crowd. “As a lady with brown skin, I have never felt in 30 years that my skin color was even an issue,” she said. “I was never discriminated against.”
The Laguna Woods crowd lapped it all up. But the biggest response of the night came when Gabriel reached her frenzied crescendo.
“For those who don’t like America, for those who complain about America, for those who are ungrateful to America, for those who loathe America, apologize for America, are embarrassed of America,” said Gabriel, “we’ll give you a one-way ticket to get the hell out here and back to whatever country you came from!”
The audience erupted in applause. “Woooo!” Gabriel shrieked after chuckling. “I’m talking to the right people.”
“U-S-A! U-S-A!” they chanted in response.
Gabriel ended with all the non-excitement making pitches for membership and money brings. For as much as she tried to be provocative, the speech was tame in comparison to the Islamophobia that ran wild during a Nonie Darwish book event three years ago organized by Act! for America in Laguna Woods. The Weekly infiltrated that talk and covered the mini-rebellion that broke out in the clubhouse.
Sure, Laguna Woods Act! for America netted an appearance from the founding mother, but if they want to keep the local hate crown left behind by Barbara Coe’s infamous California Coalition for Immigration Reform, they’ll have to try to be a little less BO-RING next time!
Gabriel San Román is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and the tallest Mexican in OC. He also once stood falsely accused of writing articles on Turkish politics in exchange for free food from DönerG’s!