Orange County, California, is a difficult-to-describe place. It is most famously the home of Disneyland, which either works for it or against it depending on who you ask. The rest of it is an endless sea of suburbia, and strip malls, and clogged freeways and glittering, insincere churches, and it’s the sort of place where past generations dreamed of bringing their kids up, back before it actually happened. It’s a place that always looks like it exists in that curious span of time when television shows were awkwardly transitioning from black and white to colorized and everything is just a bit off, somehow. It feels like, to borrow a phrase, a version of America in which Nazis won the war. A tidy utopia of quiet, unending despair.
But where was I? Oh, right. It seems the (very heavily Republican) residents of Orange County are thoroughly fed up with having to look at poor people.
On March 28, The Los Angeles Times reported that officials in Orange County, California were working to push homeless people out of the area, removing bus benches after complaints that homeless people were sleeping on them, forcing people out of encampments along the Santa Ana River, and vowing to remove a tent city near the Santa Ana Civic Center. No one is sure where those people will go next.
When you’re attempting a purge of the homeless so that residents do not have to so much as look at them or their meager belongings, one decent thing to do would be to instead provide beds and shelters so that the people you’ve been tossing off of bus stop benches—and going so far as to remove the benches so nobody can come back—have somewhere to go. If you do not want to look at the homeless, give them an indoors place to be. If you do not want to look at the hungry, feed them.
But Orange County is not a decent place in general, and so efforts to provide such shelters have been met with righteous fury by the county’s conservative residents. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, that Putin-friendly hard-right Republican Trump ally who represents a good chunk of the area, is about as indecent as they come, so of course the notion that Orange County might provide homeless shelters has him, specifically, in a frothing tizzy. You know, as a homeowner.
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