The Internet erupted in outrage on Sunday night. But unlike past Twitter controversies, the topic of conversation was not the inane responses to Miley Cyrus’ twerking or the Syrian civil war. Instead Internet-goers focused their rage on Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, who became the first Indian-American to win the Miss America pageant.
None of the Internet’s racists-turned-pageant-critics discussed the fact that talent portion of the night turned into a series of American Idol auditions (spoiler alert: no one’s going to Hollywood). Instead, some Twitter users immediately criticized Davuluri, a native of Syracuse, for being a foreigner because, apparently, Syracuse is a city in India.
To make things worse, she beat out Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed army veteran and avid hunter, who if you believe the Internet, was worthy of being the female embodiment of America. Casual racism is alive and well, folks.
If many Twitter users are to be believed, Vail’s loss to Davuluri represented the downfall of America and its values. The night’s most controversial tweet came from none other than Fox News host Todd Starnes:
“The liberal Miss America judges won’t say this – but Miss Kansas lost because she actually represented American values. #missamerica
Apparently, being white is an American value now. More importantly, though, when did Miss America represent American values? The Miss America contestants’ answers to the most simple of questions are an indictment of the education system. Does a bikini-clad blonde strutting around a stage in heels and mumbling about education in South Africa really represent what America stands for? I hope not.
The absurdity didn’t stop there, either. On Twitter, Davuluri was called a terrorist, a 7-11 owner, and an Arab (someone teach racists geography, please). One user even blamed Barack Obama for conspiring to have a Muslim Miss America — hopefully Donald Trump will spring into action immediately investigate this pressing matter.
People say they are angry because Miss America doesn’t look American. But when has Miss America ever been representative of what an American looks like? I don’t know about you, but I don’t see too many six foot tall, size 0 women running around this country. Invalidating this argument leaves only xenophobia as the cause of controversy. Todd Starnes isn’t angry because Miss America doesn’t represent American values or the American people; he is angry because she isn’t what he pictured. She just isn’t white enough.
The Miss America pageant always seems to be just a shallow glorification of women, but this year, with the crowning of the first Indian-American winner and the ensuing comments, we saw a deeper problem in our society. The overt racist nationalism is what prevents any type of immigration reform. It is what ostracizes minorities and propagates racial tensions. Before we judge a contestant for not representing American values, we should take a good look at what those values are, and if they are worth expressing. Also, last time I checked, America is supposed to be a place where we strive to look at the content of someone’s character, not the color of her skin. Let’s try to do that, shall we?
On a lighter note, congratulations to Nina Davuluri. Just a little advice: if Anthony Weiner calls to congratulate you, just let it go to voicemail. And whatever you do, don’t open his Snapchats either.