Last week, Sarah told us about Nina Davuluri, the newest Miss America and the very first Miss America of Indian descent. And she told us about the racist tweets that then erupted like an appendix on prom night (aka, not pretty and poorly timed).
She was nice enough to spare us those tweets, which I will not do. Some tweeted called her a terrorist. Some were offended that she was crowned “so close to 9/11.” Some didn’t understand her Bollywood-style performance and called it “Egypt dancing.” And some called her downright racist names that I just cannot bring myself to repeat.
I don’t want to give racists any screen time, but I think it’s necessary to discuss what they said in order to understand our culture, to understand what it means to be American and our extreme institutionalized xenophobia, despite our long history of immigration.
Twitter handles have been removed to spare racists from any fame. Explicit and offensive language lay ahead. Ye be warned.
I don’t understand how you can be up for miss America you’re not American you’re a fucking dot head!!
Do you not have to be American to win MISS AMERICA anymore?!
Miss America? You mean Miss 7-11.
How the fuck does a foreigner win miss America? She is a Arab! #idiots
Congratulations Al-Qaeda. Our Miss America is one of you.
#MissAmerica ummm wtf?! Have we forgotten 9/11?
I swear I’m not racist but this is America.
By the way, if you preface anything with, “I swear I’m not racist, but,” what is to follow pretty much proves you’re a racist. Just FYI.
Antiquated pageantry and the nature of Twitter aside, I think this sampling is just a microcosm of the current temperature of our nation, which is really just a long tradition of xenophobia, especially in times of war.
I always get really itchy when people proclaim what the real version of something is, a real man or woman, a real Christian, a real American. There are no fake Americans, folks. Your nationality is not based on your beliefs or your actions or your religion or your skin color or where your parents were born. If you were born in America or if you were granted citizenship, then you are an American. Simple as that.
It shouldn’t matter that Nina is actually an American, born in New York State. It shouldn’t matter if she were an immigrant that became a citizen. It shouldn’t matter that she’s of Indian descent, not “Arab,” which just proves that most Americans not only don’t know global history, but also basic geography. It shouldn’t matter that even if she were of Arab descent or any of the other number of cultures in the Middle East , that doesn’t mean she’s a terrorist or affiliated with a terrorist organization.
It also doesn’t seem to matter that this woman Dean’s list and earned the Michigan Merit Award and National Honor Society nods while studying at the University of Michigan, where she graduated with a degree in brain behavior and cognitive science. I’d bet dimes to dollars she’s more intelligent and more educated than all of these morons calling her a terrorist put together.
Even if she weren’t American (and then I’d wonder how she won Miss New York and then was able to enter the pageant, but that’s just logic talking), even if she weren’t Indian, but some other nationality associated what? Arabs? Al Qaeda? What are the chances that this woman would be a terrorist? This isn’t Miss Congeniality. This is the real world.
And in the real world, you all are just racists. Which brings me back to xenophobia.
There was another war not all that long ago. A war in which we decided that any Americans whose parents or grandparents or great grandparents came from this enemy nation were also our enemies. We decided they were all spies and not to be trusted and we put them all in camps and made them live in horrific conditions and we called ourselves patriots.
We locked up innocent Americans because they looked like our enemy.
It’s not all that different now, as we can see. We continue to be consumed by fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.