Miss America is not white, or Christian - get over it bigots

Sheila Musaji

Posted Sep 16, 2013      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Miss America is not white, or Christian - get over it bigots

by Sheila Musaji

In 2010, Rima Fakih (an Arab American from Michigan) won the Miss USA beauty pageant.  I wrote about the response to her win in the article   Burkas, Bikinis, and Bigotry.

I opened that article with “Personally, I’m not fond of either extreme in feminine clothing - burkas or bikinis.  I believe that beauty contests exploit women, and I’m pleased that they seem to be less and less popular with each passing year, and will not be at all sad when they are no more.  Nevertheless, women have the right to express themselves however they see fit, and the reaction of some Americans to Rima Fakih’s winning the Miss USA beauty pageant should be enough to prove once and for all that Islamophobia does exist, and that it has nothing to do with “political Islam”, “radical Islamists”, “Islamism”, or any of the other carefully crafted terms used to attempt to hide their hatred of Muslims as actually being a defense of western civilization against extremist or “radical” Muslims.  The truth is out there now for everyone to see.  It is simply Muslims that they hate.”

This week-end, Nina Davuluri won the Miss America beauty Pageant.  She is not Muslim, she is not Arab.  She was born in the USA, in Syracuse, NY, and is of Indian ancestry.  So you would think that there would be no problem.  You would be wrong. 

Buzz Feed published A Lot Of People Are Very Upset That An Indian-American Woman Won The Miss America Pageant.  They noted the explosion of hateful tweets after Ms. Davuluri won, as did First Post, CNN, Time, Public Shaming, NY Post, Salon and many other sites.

Here in summary form are some of those tweets:

— And the Arab wins Miss America. — How the fuck does a foreigner win miss America? She is a Arab! #idiots — I swear I’m not racist but this is America. — Egypt dancing? This is America. #MissAmerica — 9/11 was 4 days ago and she gets miss America? — nice slap in the face to the people of 9-11 how pathetic #missamerica — Miss America right now or miss Al Qaeda? — Miss America is a terrorist. Whatever. It’s fine. — Miss America? You mean Miss 7-11. — How can you be Miss AMERICA and look like you should be a gas station clerk or motel owner?” — Well, they’ve picked a Muslim for Miss America. That must’ve made Obama happy — It’s called Miss America. Get outta here New York you look like a terrorist. #americanforamerica — why the hell is there a terrorist dancing at the Miss America pageant?— We have a Muslim as a president and a Islamic as Miss America.  Has America failed yet? I think yes! — Sand nigger is up #missamerica — Her original plane to America landed in the World Trade Center. She lost her father. — A damn camel jockey?!Wtf! — The sad thing is, Miss Kansas didn’t make it because America isn’t ready to crown someone who represents AMERICA — She’s like not even american and she won miss america — Only reason she won is bc her people said they would lower gas prices — Wow. Miss America is a damn dot head.

The Village Voice reports Fox Host Todd Starnes Outraged That Indian-American Nina Davuluri Won Miss America.  They have screen grabs of his series of tweets that make it clear why it is that people who watch Fox News are the least informed Americans.  His tweets: — Miss Kansas, a gun-toting, deer-hunting, military veteran was America’s choice - but not the liberal Miss America judges’ choice. — The liberal Miss America judges won’t say this - but Miss Kansas lost because she actually represented American values. #missamerica

The next time an Islamophobe insists that being anti-Muslim or anti-Islam isn’t a form of racism, they might want to consider the racist responses to Ms. Davuluri’s win.  She is not a Muslim, but even if she were a Muslim - so what?  I’m reminded of Colin Powell’s comment about the false claims that Pres. Obama is a Muslim:  But the really right answer is, “What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?” The answer’s “No, that’s not America.”

Sadly, racism is still alive and well among at least a group of people who don’t realize that they are a marginal extremist fringe. 

These racist bigots seem to be anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-Arab, anti-immigrant, anti-foreigner, anti-black, anti-brown, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-anybody who is not Christian.  And, not surprisingly, based on these tweets, they must also be anti-education, and very pro-ignorance and pro-stupidity.  They can’t tell the difference between a Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh.  They think that being born in America doesn’t make a person an American.  They probably couldn’t find India on a world map.  Actually, I’d be surprised if they could find America on a world map. 

In the article The Death Spasms of American Racism, I noted:

...  Racists, anti-Semites, Islamophobes, xenophobes, homophobes - still exist, and the death of racism and the other forms of prejudice is still not (and may never be) a “done deal”.  It is now however a reasonable hope that all of these forms of prejudice can be so marginalized that they lose their ability to have any meaningful influence on America.  If we unite as AMERICANS in a concerted effort to consign any sort of prejudice to the dust bin of history, we can eradicate it from our society just as we eradicated smallpox.  Prejudice is a disease of the mind.  If we see the last pockets of prejudice and racism in America as a disease that requires us to act in order to eradicate them, we can succeed.  YES, WE CAN!  If we take a stand when we hear ethnic jokes, or innuendos, or outright demeaning words or slander directed towards any particular group (because of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual-orientation, etc.)  WE CAN move forward. 

Of course,  the disease metaphor also implies the danger we face. Polio, which has been eradicated in the United States, does still exist in the world. Without constant vigil and continuing attempts to educate and assist in the total destruction of the disease, it can easily reemerge and spread.

Similarly, we need to do everything in our power to eradicate the reservoirs of fear and hate.  Those who believe that they are superior to others based on their skin color, sexual orientation, religion, race, or nationality must learn that we are sick and tired of their outdated, uneducated, destructive prejudices. We simply aren’t going to tolerate their expressions of hatred any more.

If the prejudice is acted out in such a way that it is a hate crime or civil rights violation, then the offenders need to be prosecuted.  If the assault on others is verbal, then the offenders may have a first amendment right to freedom of speech, but we also have a right to use our free speech to let them know that their comments are barbaric and that we don’t want to hear them.  We need to openly protest when we hear anything that offends our sensibilities.  Racists may have a right to speak their mind, but so do we.  ...