Sunday night, Nina Davuluri (aka Miss New York) was crowned the winner of the 2014 Miss America pageant, making her the first Indian-American contestant to ever win the crown. To be honest, I wasn’t watching it because the season finale of “The Newsroom” was on (a great finale, might I add). But when I woke up this morning, the very first thing I saw in my Facebook news feed was a Buzzfeed report that, “A lot of People on the Internet [Were] Very Upset that An Indian-American Woman Won the Miss America Pageant.” So of course, I clicked on the link to see what all the hoopla was over. Sure enough, it appeared that many of the ignorant, racist, and bigoted morons had come out to play on Twitter last night, which prompted me to write this article.
First, India is NOT an Arab country. It’s not even remotely in the same geographic region as the “Arab World,” and furthermore the majority of people living in India do not speak Arabic or practice Islam. But, since it seems so many people need a brief geography, language, and religion lesson, here goes.
The “Arab World” consists of the Arabic speaking countries in the greater middle east and stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean in the southeast. It includes Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Iraq, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia, Somalia, the UAE, Libya, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Mauritania, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Behrain, Djibouti, and Comoros. Notice what country is not on the list? If you said India, DING DING DING, you would be correct. That’s because India isn’t geographically an Arab country. Also, they do not speak Arabic in India – they speak Hindi, English, and various other “mother tongues.”
As for religion, the major religion of the “Arab World” is Islam. On the contrary, the most popular religion in India is Hindu. Islam does not equal Hindu. Not even close. Islam is based on a book, the Koran, has a single founder, Mohammed, and Muslims pray to a single god, Allah. Hindu finds its roots in the historical Vedic religion, is based on many different Sanskrit texts, and Hinduism is a polytheistic religion, meaning that Hindus pray to many different deities, who are all expansions of the primary deity, Brahman. I’m not going to go into a detailed explanation of Islam and Hindu, suffice to say they aren’t even remotely the same religion.
In fact, the only thing that I could find that links the Arab world to India, is the etymology of the word Hindu itself, which was was taken by European languages from the Arabic term al-Hind, and refers to the land of the people who live across the River Indus. However, this Arabic term was itself taken from the Persian term Hindū, which refers to all Indians.
Second, for those that mentioned Al-Qaeda, terrorism, and 9/11, are you guys serious? I won’t waste time re-hashing my above comments — consider them repeated. Seriously though, how exorbitantly stupid does it get? The people who attacked America on 9/11 (presuming, of course, you believe the official account of what happened) were members of Al-Qaeda, a terrorist organization based out of Afghanistan with cells in Pakistan and other parts of the Middle East. Moreover, while you would be correct to point out that India is geographically located one country away from Pakistan – one of the countries that may have contained Al-Qaeda cells and the country where Bin Laden was ultimately found – you should also note that India and Pakistan have historically hated each other and have fought wars against each other. If it’s not clear, what I am saying in all of this is that Al-Qaeda, terrorism, and 9/11 have little to do with the country of India.
Finally, now that we have gotten through our geography, religion, and “who are the terrorists?” lecture, we can get to our racism and bigotry lecture. The pageant is called Miss America. It’s not called, “Miss White America,” and it’s not called, “Miss ‘What I think Miss America Should Look Like’ America.” It’s called Miss America. Moreover, a quick 30 second search would reveal that the requirements to compete in the pageant are that contestants must:
- Be between the ages of 17 and 24.
- Be a United States citizen.
- Meet residency requirements for competing in a certain town or state.
- Meet character criteria as set forth by the Miss America Organization.
- Be in reasonably good health to meet the job requirements.
- Be able to meet the time commitment and job responsibilities as set forth by the local program in which you compete.
Notice, being a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant female isn’t a requirement. So, when people say things like, “Darn..I wish Miss Kansas would’ve won! Real American woman,” what they are really saying is, “I am a racist bigot who thinks only pretty white girls are ‘real American woman.'” And don’t even get me started on the people that were just outwardly racist, saying things like, “Miss America? You mean Miss 7-11.” Really, can those of you who think this way please crawl back into whatever dirty hole in the ground you crawled out of?
Furthermore, Nina Davuluri was born in Syracuse, New York. Which means she is just as American and just as much a citizen of the United States of America as anyone born in Wichita, Kansas, or Houston, Texas, or Boise, Idaho, or any other damn place in the Union for that matter. The fact that she is Indian-American does not make her any less American than someone who is Irish-American, or Italian-American, or British-American. The fact that people are saying things like, “our new Miss America isn’t even American,” just goes to show how exceptionally stupid and racist some people in this country really are.
In closing, Miss America isn’t an Arab, she’s not a terrorist, and she is just as American as you and I are. Deal with it.
PS: And even if she was a Muslim Arab-American, why would that make a difference anyway?