Normally, I’m blissfully unaware of whoever happens to be the reigning Miss America.
It’s not something I try to keep up with. I’ve never quite understood these don’t-call-them-beauty pageants anyway. (Please don’t call me to try to explain.)
But this week, amid the ongoing crisis in Syria and another shooting massacre in our nation’s capital, I was forced briefly to think about our newest Miss America, Nina Davuluri of New York.
Davuluri has the distinction of being the pageant’s first winner of Indian descent. Other than that, she seems like any of the other contestants – poised, confident, thin and beautiful – all apparent prerequisites for such non-beauty pageants.
My reaction was, “Ah, yes, another gorgeous young woman wins Miss America. How interesting.”
For other people, however, this was a much bigger deal.
Her crowning prompted a torrent of nasty commentary on Twitter, where any cretin has a ready platform to demonstrate their ignorance and basic lack of class.
Davuluri was accused of being an Arab, a terrorist, and in general, not “American enough” to wear the nation’s most coveted tiara.
Of course, this is a ridiculous notion. I mean, what could be more American than having the desire and ambition to become Miss America?
It’s one of our hallowed traditions – anachronistic and bizarre, sure, but it’s part of our culture.
Davuluri, the daughter of immigrants, was just one of five contestants of Asian descent in the pageant. She is doing what we hope all immigrant families will do when they come here; embrace our culture and values and become one of us.
This backlash against Davuluri, who gracefully brushed aside the negative commentary, has been a pattern of late, however.
There was a similar reaction to 11-year-old Sebastien De La Cruz when he sang the Star-Spangled Banner before Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
Every ignoramus with a Twitter account felt obliged to point out that little Sebastien was of Mexican descent, and therefore somehow unqualified to sing the national anthem.
People failed to see that his performance – which was amazing, by the way – was in iteslf an act of patriotism. It was a declaration of his Americanness.
I’m proud to see that people want to be a part of this country, despite of all our faults.
People like Davuluri and De La Cruz are claiming this nation as their own. That is as it should be.
Hopefully it will soon cease to be noteworthy when they do something that we consider to be “American.”
Perhaps next year, I can again ignore whoever wins Miss America, which has become my American tradition.