1. Opinion

Ruth: Pageant's outcome peeves pinheads

Nina Davuluri, the 25-year-old Miss New York, was crowned Miss America 2014. She is of Indian descent.
Nina Davuluri, the 25-year-old Miss New York, was crowned Miss America 2014. She is of Indian descent.
Published Sep. 25, 2013

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.

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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?


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