The Miss America Contest, Twitter, and a Big Heaping Bowl of Racist Crazy

miss-america

 

Ah, internets, you never disappoint. A brown skinned woman wins Miss America, and thousands leap on Twitter to act extra stupid.

Last night, Nina Davuluri an American born woman of Indian descent won the Miss America contest.

Now, I don’t want to get too far into the pros and cons of beauty pageants. That would be a bit of a digression here, so I’ll just quickly note that beauty pageants are ground zero for crazy people. I’m thinking mostly about the mothers who dress their little girls up in outfits that would make a drag queen blush and then push them out onto the stage to be ogled by weird old men and women clutching scorecards.

…as if the single most important goal for any right thinking young lady is to attract a man from the 1950′s.

I’m thinking the armies of young women in beauty pageants across the nation who determinedly march about in swim suits and heels, as if the single most important goal for any right thinking young lady is to attract a man from the 1950′s.

I’m thinking about all the crippling body issues that come swarming off these rarified offerings of flawless, thin, uniform-jaw-structured women who no doubt are committing to six hour exercise regimens and the kind of endless self care and preparation that most of us this side of Sarah Jessica Parker, could only dream of having the free time to do.

I’m thinking of the wrenchingly uncomfortable video clips that pop up on the internet when yet another deceptively simple beauty pageant question garners a response that goes terribly, terribly off the rails.

But I digress.

Because, some Americans did forget. Pretty much every thing they ever learned in geography or history class to start, and a whole lot more besides.

What I really want to talk about is the absolutely startling level of cringingly ignorant commentary that exploded onto the internet when “never forget” America was confronted with a Miss America of American birth, but Indian descent. Because, some Americans did forget. Pretty much every thing they ever learned in geography or history class to start, and a whole lot more besides. Let’s break it down, shall we?

♦◊♦

When confronted with a brown skinned person winning the Miss America Contest:

#1 Invoke 9-11

911

Nicely done, young fellow. Your thoughtful tweets (of which there are a number) are now being featured by CNN as an example of all that is wrong with America. And although I have removed your name and Twitter handle here, CNN did not. Never mind the fact that Ms. Davuluri is American born. Never mind the fact that India is a democracy. And most of all, never mind that India is over 1,800 miles from Saudi Arabia, which is the ACTUAL nationality of most of the 9-11 attackers. You, my friend have just left a big fat digital footprint that any future employer will no doubt find interesting. Smart is as smart does.  

 

#2 Invoke Islamophobia

muslim  

Now, interestingly, this young lady has suddenly decided to take her Twitter account private. You have to be a member to enjoy any more of her ideas about pluralism and religious tolerance. Once again, I have taken the liberty of removing her name and Twitter handle here, but LOTS of places on the internet have not. Accordingly, she has a nifty thread developing where folks are providing friendly feedback for her to consider. Need I point out that Miss America is not Muslim but that lots of other wonderful people are? No, of course I don’t need to point that out.  

 

#3 Be Confused About What the Word “American” Actually Means

foreign        

Here’s a young lady who thinks skin color defines nationality. In the intervening hours since she first expressed her shock and dismay at the judges’ decision, she has decided to remove her tweet. Perhaps, after further consideration, she feels her tweet to be a moment of indiscretion? A light hearted prank amidst what is no doubt an otherwise edifying record of uplifting social media commentary?

Regardless, she took the tweet down and that is that, right? All better. Except for the good old screen capture button. Rule number one: The internet never forgets. Well, you never wanted to be accepted to a good college anyway, right dear?

 

#4 Invoke Immigrants Taking All Our Jobs

Now this fellow, who is a commentator and host for Fox News gets to have his live link and name available to the world because he’s not a dumb college kid who had too much beer. He’s actually proud of his less than artful attempt to invoke yet more race baiting about jobs and religion. His Twitter feed is littered with phrases like “politically correct,” and “Miss Diversity” as if a brown skinned person can only win over a white person if they are granted special favors by liberals. His comment in support of Miss Kansas invokes the long held belief among the red state world that white people are victims. Of  brown people. And liberals. And black people. And anyone who isn’t just like them.

Meanwhile, America, a nation of immigrants, rolls its collective eyes and looks toward the future. Which, by the way, will be light brown.

Original photo by Mel Evans / AP

 

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Comments

  1. The stoopids, it hirts….

  2. Les Kertay, Ph.D. says:

    The internet is forever; I hope the people you very artfully reminded of this fact have the good sense to step back and reflect. Sadly, I think it’s unlikely that they will see anything wrong with what they’ve done, or realize the xenophobic assumptions underlying their tweets. Now my question becomes, how can I help promote tolerance and civility in the midst of this – well, craziness?

  3. Marie Roker-Jones says:

    Great post Mark! Can’t say I’m surprised. I remember when Vanessa Williams won in the 80s. She even received death threats. It’s just sad that we’re in the 21st Century and despite the advancements we’ve made, ignorance seems to prevail.

  4. While I get that talking about race and the very real existence of racism in our post-civil-rights-movement country…

    Can we please stop talking about what no-name idiots say on Twitter as if it’s important? I’m getting very tired of media outlets watching something controversial unfold and then rushing to Twitter to find the stupidest things being said and making those Tweets the basis of a whole article. It’s NOT NEWS any more than Drunk Uncle Jerry’s racist jokes at the Labor Day BBQ are news. These are just being recorded and published; even if they weren’t, these idiots would still be shouting their opinions at their TV sets, with the exact same tiny iota of influence on overall society.

    Then again, it is useful shorthand for people like me who aren’t on Twitter and don’t mind the reminders of exactly WHY that is…

    • Hi KKZ,
      I would respectfully suggest that those idiots shouting at the TV are sometimes doing so with small children in the room. Thats how this stuff gets passed on. If the media isn’t telling a counter story to what bigots are saying, how will anyone (including their kids) ever hear that its wrong. Keeping our bigots hidden is a terrible choice. I’d much rather have them outed often and early by the media. Otherwise only their kids and friends hear them.

      Thank god, they’ve been kind enough to come into the digital public square and declare their ignorance and hatred. Now these hidden dialogues are visible to all.

  5. Amy Johnson says:

    THANK YOU for a rational piece on this subject. Sharing sharing. And wow, actually checking the FACTS before jumping to wild, racist conclusions?! Novel!

  6. MevsSociety says:

    Persons making such comment are ignorant. They have been abandoned by the educated and insightful and are surviving by making enough noise and distraction to get their comments, heard, repeated, and spread around for others to read as though they actually have some beneficial and relevent value.

  7. wellokaythen says:

    Can I get paid to skim the internet and twitterverse looking for idiotic racist comments? I ask because that has to be the easiest job in the world. Sort of shooting fish in a barrel, really.

    I’m the last person to underestimate the idiocy of the online public, but I wonder how representative these tweets really are. There must be millions of tweets about the pageant, and no doubt some of them are pretty ignorant. (I bet about 20% of the comments are along the lines of “yeah id do her.”) And, yes, every statement of racism is one statement too many, etc., etc., but how widespread are these reactions?

    I imagine there are lots of people in Latin America tweeting about how absurd it is that one country has the audacity to call itself “America” to the exclusion of all other “Americans” in the Western Hemisphere.

    • EXACTLY. The news media are really in sad shape if they still think “OMG racism on Twitter!” deserves to be a headline.

  8. You should NOT have censored the Twitter handles of these peoples’ comments. These people need to own up to their words. If their opinions are being broadcast in public, then so should their identities; at least their Twitter handles should be. Whatever consequences they receive as a result of that is of their own undertaking. By censoring their names, you have given them the amnesty of anonymity. Shame on you for doing this.

    • If that owning up could be done without people going all vigilante justice on them I’d be for it. But unfortunately the internet is not that trustworthy. The last thing we need is some self righteous “My insults and attacks are okay because you made racist remarks” vigilantism.

      • The last thing we need is some self righteous “My insults and attacks are okay because you made racist remarks” vigilantism.

        indeed danny.
        while it is true, i can enter their words into a search engine to find their names.
        i still consider what mark did by not posting their id’s, a humane act

  9. The idea that the sentiments expressed by these racist tweets are insignificant,reflecting only a fraction of commonly held values and mores.is without much evidence.This shit has been rolling down hill for hundreds of years in America.The popularity of FOX NEWS is just one indication of the depth and range these views have in America.These beliefs are anything but fringe.All too often progressive voices consistently underestimate the power of racism,behaving as if the denial of its existence,painting those who are racist as crazy, will somehow solve the problem.This denial is part of the problem.

  10. Nicely said, Mark. I tend to agree with E. Raymund, although I don’t care to be quite as harsh. Still, when you (a Twitter user) states something on Twitter, you do so openly, to share, to provoke, to incite. Whatever the reason, you chose to use a public forum. This blog is an excellent piece (IMHO) but in moving to protect the guilty, you did exactly that. Still, the point is clearly how stupid Americans can be. It’s one thing to be a bigot. It’s another to be an idiot. Wait …. yeah, there’s no difference! Where’s my paper sack?!

  11. John Schtoll says:

    Some crazy crap pops into my head every once in a while. HERE is one of those things.

    What if a full blood Native American won this contest, would we still get these posts claiming she was foreign. I bet we would.

  12. What amuses me is when major news organizations breathlessly report “Ignorant, hateful comments found on Twitter!” like it’s some amazing and newsworthy revelation.

    They’re still not 100% sure this Internet thing will catch on, are they? When will these dinosaurs recognize that they’re peddling yet another dog-bites-man story under the guise of ‘news’?

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