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.
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.
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
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
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
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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Also by Mark Greene: The Naughty Hand, a fun and entertaining graphic novel for iPad, is designed the help parents talk to their little ones (age 4-7) about grabbing and pushing others. Download a free 34 page sample on iTunes today!