In February of 2011 an event sponsored by a Muslim organization at a community center in Yorba Linda Southern California drew large and angry protests. Hundreds of people attended. Two Republican Congressmen and other local politicians addressed the crowd and, instead of allaying their anxieties, appealed to their basest religious stereotypes and amplified their rage. The gathered waved American flags and placards and chanted with increasing vitriol at the Muslim families:

Go back home … Go back home … Go back home! … USA! USA! USA! USA! … Muhammad was a child molester! Muhammad was a pervert! … We don't want you here stupid terrorist! Go home, go home, go home, no shari'a! … Go home and beat your wife—she needs a good beating! … Go have sex with a nine year old and marry her. 1

These angry outbursts were eerily reminiscent of events that took place in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1836, where a Catholic convent was burned to the ground. Home to over fifty young students and fourteen nuns, the episode was the first large-scale anti-Catholic violence in the country. 2 Not only were Catholics there the target of local ire, but the rage was likewise directed at children. Moreover, a significant subtext to both conflicts was fear that the religious other was/is a sexual deviant who inflicts violence on women and children. The hateful language the protesters and politicians in Yorba Linda directed at Muslims is disturbing, but the scale of the barbarity in Charlestown, which included the desecration of dead nuns' bodies, illustrates how quickly rhetoric can descend to savagery, especially in the hands of a roused mob.