The Miss America Pageant, and a few others, like to say that they are all about showcasing talent and poise for the purpose of awarding scholarships. Fine. Preserving polite fiction is part of what makes society run.
The Miss USA Pageant has never voiced a pretension to higher thought–it is a celebration of the superficial–so it is a bit odd that for the second year in a row, a pageant judge has asked a rather deep question with an apparent expectation of a deep response.
The new Miss USA is Rima Fakih of Dearborn, Michigan, and she is drop-dead gorgeous.
She may not be the smartest thing on two legs, but she is not supposed to be an intellectual. Think of the intellectuals you know or have read, and ask yourself if you want any of them to be your Miss USA.
Miss USA is supposed to be heart-stoppingly beautiful, and that is all; that Fakih certainly is.
Moreover, she is a testament to the fast-fading notion that in America, every avenue of opportunity is wide-open for every sort of person with a dream.
It is also possible that the judges simply thought Fakih more naturally, and exotically beautiful than the rather over-produced-unto-softporn-looking Morgan Elizabeth Woolard, whose answer to the question, it must be said, seemed to strive for something like balance.
Donald Trump, who owns the pageant, is likely not bothered by these political questions; there is no such thing as bad publicity, after all, but the superficiality of the event itself, and its time constraints, only serve to cheapen questions that are deserving of weighty consideration. These crash-test Q & A’s only speed up America’s devolution into the “I hate this; I love that and I can’t tell you why” factions that are weakening public discourse and further balkanizing a nation already under heavy strain.
I am not sure how a beautiful Muslim woman strutting before millions in a bikini (or tripping in a low-cut evening gown) is going to somehow please those religious fundamentalists devoted to hijab. Rather than accuse Rima Fakih of serving Shari’a, perhaps we should be worried that she will be marked for destruction by those who would kill a daughter for the dishonorable action of having been raped.
Or, who knows, perhaps Miss Fakih’s victory will help Muslims feel more mainstreamed, and less marginalized in a way that helps them identify with America. Wouldn’t that be a kick? If the most superficial of events, a beauty pageant, brings diplomatic progress?
Who needs “smart” diplomacy? Bring on the pretty girls!
Howie at Jawa Report, thinking along the same lines, writes: “…give it time, time for her bronze hotness to work its magic on the Arab mind.”
I think he’s thinking along the same lines, anyway. Don’t go there if the pole dancing offends.
Popehat smacksdown the conspiracy theorists, quite rightly:
The terrorists have succeeded, at least to some extent, in marginalizing the culturally superior elements of American society — bravery, fairness, open-mindedness, tolerance, and devotion to liberty and equality. They have also succeeded, in turn, in empowering and mainstreaming all that is willfully ignorant, bigoted, ineffectually fearful, and totalitarian in the dark recesses of the American psyche.
Well, but lets be fair. It didn’t take terrorism to do that. Just one Debacle of an Election, ‘way back in 2000, which is still resonating among us, throughout the political spectrum. Many decrying rightwing paranoia today are the same ones who were declaring, in 2007, that George W. Bush would steal your automobiles, install martial law and disallow elections.
America is in the midst of a psychotic breakdown, and it seems she wants to have part of it on the backs of a bunch of women who, like Fakih, Miss Woolard and Carrie Prejean, just want to feel like a princess, be treated like a queen, get some modeling gigs, make some money and then perhaps anchor the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Can’t we give the girls a break?
UPDATE: Saudi woman beats up virtue cop