Adam Serwer, JJP Alum (dnA), wrote this great short piece over at Tapped on the mouth-breathing bigotry surrounding the new Miss USA who happens to be Arab American.

Apparently the new Miss USA, Rima Fakih, is of Lebanese descent. For the anti-Muslim right, her winning is a sign of the apocalypse.

Michelle Malkin is savvy enough to mostly cloak her freak-out behind horror over Fakih’s politics (although she can’t resist a dig at those “identity politics” people), while other conservative bloggers just go ahead and call her a terrorist. Professional Islamophobe Daniel Pipes combs the internet for other instances in which Muslim women have won beauty contests, and concludes there’s some kind of “an odd form of affirmative action” going on. Because how could anyone choose a Muslim over a “real American” in a beauty contest?

I mean, where is the patriotism? Fakih grew up in Queens NYC before moving out to Michigan. That sounds pretty American to me. It says a lot about our country that anyone can become president or Miss USA, no matter their background, if they are qualified. After all, both Barack Obama and Rima Fakih are very pretty. And that matters in America! Caste and color, on the other hand, are mattering less and less. It also says something positive to those outside the U.S. — that we celebrate the heritage of all our citizens, including Arab Americans. This is the kind of thing that makes us safer and lowers the tendency of the rest of the world to turn a dark eye toward America’s history of discrimination.

Now you’d think it was 1984. Vanessa Williams was the first African-American to be crowned Miss America only to be taken down by dirt dug up about her. According to Wikipedia, for the first time in pageant history, a reigning Miss America was the target of death threats and hate mail. Disgusting. Seems Rima is getting some of the same treatment. I hope she’s allowed to keep her crown. Don’t matter though: Williams may have had to turn in her crown but is probably one of the most successful Miss Americas that America has ever seen. She’s been nominated for Grammy, Tony and Emmy awards, for example. Rima should be so lucky if the haterade wipes her out temporarily!

This knee-jerk bigotry and hatred is a big reason why the Republican party is struggling right now for donations and membership. In a post-racist society, your hangups over who does or doesn’t “look like” an American citizen are not cute and will not win you Miss Congeniality. Nor many votes.

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