Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Pageant's outcome peeves pinheads

As the newly minted Miss America, Nina Davuluri has learned that William Shakespeare's warning that "uneasy lies the head that wears the crown" is all too true, especially when you find yourself reigning over the hysterical rantings of the bumpkin-sphere.

Since 1921, the annual rite of selecting the nation's comeliest of them all has been a corny, anachronistic slice of Americana. Feminists may well be right in criticizing the Miss America Pageant as a banal objectification of women.

Fair enough. But in the pantheon of offensive sexism, this would seem to be a relatively harmless strut down the runway of life — until last weekend.

No sooner had the 25-year-old Miss New York ascended to the pinnacle of pulchritudinous as the first contestant of Indian descent to be named Miss America than the cyber world exploded with doltish outrage.

Here are some telling examples: "Well, they picked a Muslim for Miss America," "I'm so mad an Arab won," "If you're Miss America, shouldn't you have to be an American?," "How does a foreigner win Miss America?," "So Miss America is a terrorist," "When will a white woman win Miss America? Ever??!!" and "This Miss America pageant needs to have more background checks, simple as that."

By the addled standards imposed by this cabal of silly people, Republican governors Nikki Haley in South Carolina and Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, who are both of Indian descent, would be unqualified to hold office.

For the record, the last "white woman" to win the Miss America title was Miss New York Mallory Hagan all the way back in — last year.

Then there was Fox News Radio's Todd Starnes, who must have been deep into getting his Joe McCarthy apparatchik merit badge when he took issue with Davuluri's selection because she doesn't "represent American values."

Just what "American values" does Nina Davuluri supposedly lack? Narrow-mindedness? Racial profiling skills? Not blond enough?

As it turns out, Davuluri is about as American as you can get. She was born and raised just outside Syracuse, N.Y., which the last time anyone checked is well within the borders of the United States. She even speaks English. Imagine that.

With her $50,000 in scholarship money that comes with the Miss American title, Davuluri intends to follow in her father's footsteps to become a doctor. Now there's some seditious behavior for you.

Davuluri recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in brain behavior and cognitive science, which ought to come in rather handy during her yearlong tenure in dealing with the intellectual thuggery.

The rampant racism inherent in the comments about Davuluri notwithstanding, the fury over her choice to represent the country as Miss America also points to a mind-numbing realization that this young woman's critics are illiterate.

People from India, or of Indian descent, are not "Arabs." It is also highly doubtful Davuluri was some sort of "Abbottabad Candidate," a deep-cover terrorist sent to this country to win the Miss America competition before embarking on evildoing.

Davuluri was taken to task by one geography-challenged tweeter for performing an "Indonesian dance" during the talent portion of the pageant, when she presumably should have delivered a rousing solo square dance just to prove her American bona fides.

The United States used to celebrate its diversity, its "melting pot" of varying cultures, only to devolve into a belching pot of prejudicial ignorance.

An attractive, young, intelligent, well-educated native-born woman representing all the things that are admirable about this country happens to come out on top in a dated beauty contest. Instead of enjoying her moment in the Atlantic City surf, she finds herself accused of lacking American values and being an enemy of the state to boot.

What is wrong with so many people in this country?

The other day, the great Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, bemoaning the nation's apparent lack of interest in any remote semblance of reasonable gun control in the face of repeated mass shooting deaths, raised an elegantly simple point.

Is America crazy?

It's a reasonable question. But, with all due respect to Pitts, it would seem there is another question to raise.

When a Miss America contestant can generate such a groundswell of hatred, vitriol and ignorant accusations, is America stupid?

Comments
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18