Newport-area protester blasts Pauly

VILLA PARK — Erik Oatman grew up in one of the most affluent cities in Orange County: Newport Beach.

On Tuesday evening, he stood with hundreds of protesters in another Orange County affluent community, Villa Park, condemning what they say were words of bigotry and hatred against Muslims by a member of the City Council there.

Oatman, 24, joined his sister, Annalise, brothers Scott and Brett, and two friends at Villa Park's City Hall to denounce what Councilwoman Deborah Pauly said in February outside of a Muslim charity in Yorba Linda.

Oatman and the others said they wanted to stand by the Muslim community, to let them know that he's a friend.

"I think it's sad that a lot of people feel justified to have a lot of negative and raw emotions toward Muslim people," he said. "And it all comes from a place of ignorance and misinformation, especially when they themselves don't know a Muslim."

But there was another reason, a bigger reason, why Oatman attended the protest: to denounce ignorance and fear.

"Right-wing politicians use certain types of rhetoric and war-mongering vocabulary that has become, not only accepted, but also expected if you're going to a conservative or a right-wing event, especially if it's going to be open to the public," Oatman said. "You can expect to see that kind of macho language, but they also conveniently play the victim card and play on people's raw emotions. It's unhealthy and it's very socially regressive."

Pauly represents the epitome of that type of language that plays on people's emotions and fears, Oatman said.

At a rally outside of a charity event held by the relief wing of the Islamic Circle of North America at a community center in Yorba Linda, Pauly was seen in a YouTube video saying, "These who are assembling are enemies of America. They are your enemy. They are my enemy because they seek to destroy it. They seek to destroy our way of life and everything we stand for."

She referenced her Marine son, then said, "As a matter of fact, I know quite a few Marines who will be very happy to help these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise."

Pauly isn't willing to apologize for her words.

In an interview earlier this week, she said she was referring to two controversial keynote speakers who were invited to the charity event, not to all the Muslims who were assembled there.

But she chose not to mention their names at the time because, she said, part of her was afraid.

When hundreds gathered at City Hall on Tuesday and dozens spoke before the City Council to denounce Pauly's words and call for her resignation, she blamed the Council on American Islamic Relations, CAIR-LA, for releasing what she said is a highly edited YouTube video of her speech.

"When I speak of unadulterated evil, I mean CAIR," she said, "because they distorted the truth."

CAIR representatives released a transcript of her entire speech and said the video was edited for time.

Asked for her reaction to Tuesday's protest outside City Hall, Pauly said it was an act of terrorism against Villa Park.

"To me, right there, is case and point of what I'm talking about," Oatman said. "The general fear-mongering and war rallies. It's sad that certain Americans have such a positive response to really primitive, negative ideas."

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