Rima Fakih Miss USA 2010 – Can’t We Just Be Happy?

Last night, 24-year-old Miss Michigan Rima Fakih was crowned Miss USA 2010. She became both the first Arab American Miss USA in the history of the competition. My girlfriend and I looked at each other and said: “She is really hot.” And we were happy for her.

Turns out many people thought there was ‘discrimination’ taking place at the competition and have sense made a huge fuss about it. There are blogs implying that Miss Oklahoma Morgan Woolard should have been the winner had she not been booed upon giving an unpopular answer supporting Arizona’s SB 1070. Others are denouncing this as affirmative action, citing the recent uptick in Muslim women winning beauty pageants. Still others decided to rip on her gaffetastic answer about contraception and health insurance.

Come on everybody — can’t we just be happy?

I want to preface this by saying that if I based everything on performance, I would have picked Miss Virginia Samantha Casey over either of the two women in the dispute. I thought Casey’s answer to BP oil spill question was great and she also had the best dress. She ended up as the second-runner up, but you don’t see me spouting conspiracy theories about it.

Yes, Miss Oklahoma got screwed by her question. It was definitely the most controversial question of the night and designed to alienate whoever received the question from half the audience regardless of the answer. But that’s the fault of the person who wrote the question, not the person who ended up winning the pageant, Rima Fakih.

Was the contest rigged? Well, like most pageants, there will always be some manipulation behind the scenes. The entire Miss USA pageant is a publicity event and I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a man behind the curtain with a million contingency plans in his head. But that doesn’t suggest there was an elaborate conspiracy in the sense of “we will do whatever it takes to give the Muslim the crown,” as some are implying.

Why do people immediately point fingers and assume Rima Fakih was terrible and could only win because of ‘affirmative action?’ Is it because she almost slipped on her dress earlier in the night? Is it because she called birth control a controlled substance? (By the way, it is a controlled substance in Michigan.) Is it because people assume she’s Muslim? Beauty is subjective, clothing is subject to the crazy minds of fashion designers, and a twenty-second answer to a complicated question doesn’t give a statistically significant sample of one’s intelligence. People should not jump to conclusions that she was less qualified and was ‘given’ the crown.

Playing devil’s advocate for a minute — even if the contest was rigged so a Muslim could become Miss USA. Is that so wrong? Donald Trump owns the contest and he can do whatever the heck he wants with it. Plus, a lot of the world’s news is centered around conflicts in the Middle East and religious conflict. If all these Muslim women are winning pageants in America, that tells me people are showing solidarity with their Muslim American neighbors. It is a symbolic gesture to show their fellow Americans that there’s no enmity — that we understand there is a clear distinction between Muslims and crazy fundamentalists? Is this so wrong?

I think pageants are silly. But if its used to bring people together, then I’m all for it. From the way these bloggers are talking about Fakih, you’d think some of them probably support Japanese internment in WWII rather than look back on it as a painful lesson in ‘what not to do in the future.’

But of course, I don’t think there was a conspiracy. Rima Fakih won because she was super hot and likable. Let’s not bring race and religion into everything.

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