In a surprise to no one, including new Miss America Nina Davuluri, racists and xenophobes are up in arms that the venerable beauty pageant chose a non-white winner. For anyone with a bone to pick with those of the browner persuasion, Davuluri's victory...
Welcome to a special Miss America edition of This Week in Racism. I’ll be ranking news stories on a scale of 1 to RACIST, with “1” being the least racist and “RACIST” being the most racist.
-Last week, a new Miss America was crowned, and to the dismay of every person with a bone to pick with those of the browner persuasion, she's Indian. The hysterical screaming you see above was Nina Davuluri's reaction to winning the venerable beauty pageant, but it easily could have been her face after reading some of the more hateful statements made toward her after her victory.
Just about every person outed for their racist tweets after the paegent have been nuked from the internet, either having their accounts suspended or choosing to delete the offending statements after a massive backlash from the media.
Davuluri has been making the press rounds in the past week, going on LIVE with Kelly and Michael and Extra, sitting down with the New York Daily News, and just generally being cool about the entire sordid affair. In her Daily News interview, she seemed both pragmatic and resigned to her fate as a racial pariah, saying, “It was something I wasn’t surprised about. I’d experienced those same kind of remarks when I’d won Miss New York and I knew if I won Miss America it would happen again.”
Every time a person of color ends up encroaching on an “American” institution, be it singing the National Anthem or appearing in a blockbuster movie adaptation of a book about kids murdering each other in the forest, Twitter explodes with outrage. It seems that there is a fundamental disconnect regarding what constitutes an American. The United States is either a historically white nation that happens to have attracted a lot of ethnic minorities, or it's the proverbial “metling pot” of diversity.
It's not just race that muddies the national identity. Some see America's first responsibility as upholding liberty and personal freedom, while others say the country must concern itself with social justice and equality. Businesses should either be able to operate as they see fit without unnecessary government intervention, or they should be regulated to protect lower and middle class citizens. Christianity is either the state religion, or it's one of many faiths in a diverse society. Some of the offensive tweets from last week even chose to refer to Davuluri as a foreigner, even though she was born in Syracuse, New York.
When we can't even agree that being born on American soil makes you American, and the President of the United States has to constantly refute claims that he's not eligible for the job registered voters picked him for, it becomes very clear that there is no actual national identity in the United States. This creates a neverending outrage feedback loop. Liberals make an assertion about American values, then conservatives call them unpatriotic. Conservatives shoot back with their own idea about those values, and liberals scurry to marshall their own set of pundits to fight back. Our leaders can't even agree to disagree on issues as simple as whether or not to raise the debt ceiling so the country doesn't default on its numerous loans. They'd rather just posture and trade invectives until it's too late, hoping slightly more than 50 percent of the population that pays attention blames the other side. America is rapidly becoming a schizophrenic, manic-depressive society, in danger of destroying itself from the inside.
The only way out of this death spiral is to remember why we have the National Anthem and events like the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and Miss America. We have them to unite us under a common banner, but also they are all cultural touchstones that have no actual meaning. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a song about a battle that the average American has never even heard of. It just happens to have enough lofty language in the lyrics to inspire people. The Super Bowl is a three hour commerical for cultural excess and violence, but it's fun to watch. Miss America is just a stupid popularity contest that doesn't even have the legitimacy of The Voice. It's a battle to see who is the most poised woman in the country. Standing up straight and smiling are two of the least popular activities in America today, so why the hell should anyone really care about this? I'll tell you why. It's because there's a swimsuit competition and American males still love perving out over hot women. Perhaps it's time that this country stops this torturous existential crisis, holds hands, and goes back to what it's really best at: being gross and objectifying women. RACIST
-The University of Alabama, a college famous in the history of the Civil Rights movement, moved to change its sorority recruitment guidelines as a response to allegations that the Greek system at the school was discriminating against minority pledges. University President Judy Bonner has ordered that sorority recruitment take place at any time, rather than during a fixed period during the school year. Also, she has expanded the limit on group members to 360, in the hopes that these adjustments will spur greater diversity. Bonner made sure that her statement made it known that they “will not tell any group who they must pledge,” since the whole point of Greek organizations is to exclude people.
Now, I'm not anti-Greek. Rather, it must be said that there's no other reason for these groups to exist, but to keep some people out. They're supposed to create comradery, encourage the much-needed skill of social climbing, and reinforce class hierarchies...
Wait, some of that doesn't sound good at all. Still, that's why they exist, so taking that exclusivity away renders the Greek system totally pointless. Besides, there are plenty of secret societies with arcane rules, mysterious rituals, and a history of racial homogeny that we all are happy to tolerate. 8
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