In fact, there is something dumber than holding a Miss America contest in this day and age -- and that is the yahoos who were offended about its most recent winner, an Indian American named Nina Davuluri.
She’s not a real American, some say. She’s a terrorist; more like “Miss Al Qaeda,” others scoff. Right after the anniversary of 9/11 no less, the easily offended cry. And, of course, some say “Muslim” President Obama is to blame.
“The ludicrous thing about the Miss America pageant, which took place in Atlantic City, N.J., Sunday night, is that anyone treats it as meaningful, rather than a retro institution clinging to the corrosive idea that female accomplishment is most palatable when it is packaged in Botox, bleach and bikinis,” writes The Times’ Robin Abcarian. Hear, hear.
And yet, this retro ritual has provided us with a window into the present-day United States, where ignorant and/or uneducated Americans lurk, spewing hate and nonsense with reckless abandon.
Among the most persistent claims from the uninformed is that Davuluri is Muslim. She isn’t, but so what if she were?
“The demonization of any minority group runs contrary to the spirit of this great country,” wrote Scott C. Alexander in a 2012 Op-Ed in our Opinion pages. He went on: “In fact, we need to go even further and declare that Muslims the world over are an important and vital part of the one human family, with whom the rest of this same family needs to partner and build relationships of trust for the sake of us all.”
“You have a choice to shop anywhere, just like you have a choice to practice your religion anywhere,” he says to a customer refusing to place an order with a Muslim cashier. “That’s the reason I wear the uniform, so anyone can live free in this country. Leave the man alone.”
Skip to the 4:50 mark to watch the interaction, or better yet, watch the whole thing and learn some things -- such as compassion, and acceptance, and what it means to be a real American.
But back to Nina Davuluri, who is not Muslim. The Atlantic’s Alexander Abad-Santos has put together a dummies guide to understanding the first Indian American Miss America. It should clear up any lingering misconceptions. And it’s super easy to understand. There are pictures and everything.