A newly crowned Miss America, first and foremost, ought to look like an American. Luckily Nina Davuluri, who won the title Sunday night, totally does.
But after the 24-year-old, who is of Indian descent, was named the winner, the twittersphere exploded with insults that included "And the Arab wins Miss America. Classic," "9/11 was four days ago and she gets Miss America," "More like Miss Terrorist" and "Miss America? You mean Miss 7-11." On the bright side, there was also a Twitter backlash in which wiser people berated morons for their xenophobic rants.
Davuluri was born in Syracuse, and is the first Indian-American to be named Miss America. She is also the second consecutive Miss New York to win the national title.
She partially funded her degree in brain behavior and cognitive science from the University of Michigan with $25,000 in previous pageant winnings. Davaluri plans to follow in the path of her father by becoming a doctor, and this win brings with it another $50,000 in scholarship money to ease the path.
Her beauty is undeniable. She seems to exemplify traits that should make any sensible American proud to claim her. Beauty pageants deserve bashing for their outdated and looks-obsessed vision of the feminine ideal. Bashing this young lady, though, for her ethnic appearance, is way off base. The United States is a nation of immigrants, and New York is a state of immigrants who arrive year after year from an astonishing variety of countries. At the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, it's often immediately noticeable how similar the representatives of particular nations look compared with the rainbow that is the U.S. team.
It is the greatest strength of the United States, not a fault, that anyone can look like an American. Judging by those offensive tweets, though, not everyone can think like one.