Why Some Are Outraged by Arab Miss USA

Rima Fakih gets rough treatment in fringe conservative circles

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It probably did not require a Ph.D. to predict that some would be unhappy to see an Arab-American win the Miss USA pageant. The backlash against Rima Fakih, whose Lebanese heritage includes Christian and Muslim family, quickly hit certain fringes of the conservative blogosphere. (The majority of conservatives, and of pundits overall, do not share their criticism. And of course the extreme fringe is always ready to offend.) Here's what they're saying and a few attempts at understanding why they're saying it.

The Case Against Rima Fakih

  • Picked for Political Correctness?  Fox News' Gretchen Carlson asks, "Did the Muslim-American win because of the whole P.C. society that we find ourselves in?"
  • 'Islamo-Pandering'  Conservative writer Debbie Schlussel goes there: "It’s a sad day in America but a very predictable one, given the politically correct, Islamo-pandering climate in which we’re mired. The Hezbollah-supporting Shi’ite Muslim, Miss Michigan Rima Fakih–whose bid for the pageant was financed by an Islamic terrorist and immigration fraud perpetrator–won the Miss USA contest. I was on top of this story before anyone, telling you about who Fakih is and her extremist and deadly ties." If you really must read her "scoop," it's here.
  • Affirmative Action Conspiracy  National Review writer, Bush-era State Department official, and Giuliani campaign adviser Daniel Pipes writes on his personal blog, "This surprising frequency of Muslims winning beauty pageants makes me suspect an odd form of affirmative action. My suspicion is borne out by the selection of Anisah Rasheed as Miss A&T at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University." He cites four Muslim-American beauty pageant winners.
  • Her 'Gaffetastic' Performance Proves Media Bias  Michelle Malkin catalogs Fakih's "gaffes," which include having "nearly tripped over her gown" and saying that birth control should be covered by health insurance. "Imagine if those words had come out of the mouth of Carrie Prejean or Sarah Palin. Between the NYTimes, MSNBC, Jon Stewart, and the late night talkers, we wouldn’t hear the end of it." Malkin doesn't explain exactly what about Fakih earns her the alleged double standard.

Understanding the Outrage

  • Critics Got It Exactly Backward  Outside the Beltway's Steven Taylor sighs, "I am not an expert on Sharia law, but I am pretty sure that posing in public in a skimpy two-piece bathing suit is pretty much forbidden.  As such, the way in which the victory of Ms. Fakih in the Miss USA contest is evidence of Trump kowtowing to radical Islam is beyond me.  Now, Schussel might have a point if Trump had replaced the bikini with a burqa. Actually, rather than (as Schussel claims) 'Hezbollah […] laughing at us' it seems far more likely that this will inflame the rage of some radical Islamists who will see this as further evidence of the corrupting influence of the West."
  • Hair-Trigger Islamophobia  Law professor Jonathan Turley fumes, "It is a sad commentary on our contemporary politics that an Arab-American cannot simply win such a pageant without unleashing such a torrent of hateful conspiracy theories. I do not even like such pageants but it is astonishing how little it takes to vent such anger and prejudice. Of course, even a scarf on a donut commercial in enough to trigger a national boycott today, here ... I have no idea (nor do I care) what the views of this woman might be — nor do I see the relevance."
  • Reveals Emotional Roots of Political Views?  The American Prospect's Adam Serwer suggests that "the tone and substance of the fever swamp's reaction to an Arab-American winning a beauty contest is at least useful for pointing out how some people's political opinions aren't based so much in questions of policy as anti-Muslim animosity. The level of anger is just so plainly disproportionate to the matter at hand as to be self-implicating."
  • 'The Terrorists Have Won'  Popehat blogger Ken is only somewhat tongue-in-cheek. "I fear that I agree with them that the incident shows that the terrorists have won. I just think so for a different reason. I fear that their reaction shows that the terrorists have won by transforming a significant — or, at least, significantly noisy — segment of American society. The terrorists have succeeded, at least to some extent, in marginalizing the culturally superior elements of American society — bravery, fairness, open-mindedness, tolerance, and devotion to liberty and equality."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.