After writing a post last week celebrating Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birthday and his impact on the US, and getting a very favourable and heart-warming response I must say, it was interesting to see the news yesterday. For those that haven’t had the chance to see it, the Twitter sphere went crazy last night following the results of the Miss America beauty pageant. For the first time, it has been won by an Indian.
Let me be very clear from the beginning here. I am not in any shape or form a supporter of beauty pageants, nor do I agree with the premise within which they operate. To put it simply, I don’t think that you can rank or quantify ‘beauty’. Having said that, I find it strange how such an outdated institution has dredged up a torrent of horrifying abuse, especially since the anniversary of 9/11 passed us by only a week ago. The bitterness is still there.
A lot of the tweets can be seen here, but let me give you the greatest hits. There is a lot of references to an ‘Arab’, a ‘foreigner’ and not ‘Miss America’ but ‘Miss Al-Qaeda’. The thing that struck me the most was the fact that people were adamant that ‘This is America!’ and Nina Davuluri, Miss New York and the newly crowned Miss America, did not fit into this picture. It seems that the image of America held by some Americans harks back to the days of yore, when non-Caucasians were considered to be inferior citizens. That makes sense, right?
Wrong. Let’s wrap this up nicely so that we don’t need to revisit this again. The best way to deal with idiocy is through reason, and so here is my logic. First of all, the indigenous population of the North Pacific region, now occupied by the USA and Canada, were home to the tribes of ‘Red Indians’ who are now more affectionately termed as Native Americans. Non-whites. Therefore the argument that ‘these people’ do not belong in this country is difficult to argue, when historically, they arrived first.
I was really hoping that with the instatement of the first Black President and the movement of higher ethnic immigration to America would stem this tide of racial ignorance. But these are small stepping stones in this fight. The real heavyweight is education and understanding, of which is not sufficient in Western society. There is no time, no commitment and no hunger to understand why people are different and why this should be celebrated. Instead we descend into pitiful, childish name calling and bullying.
When are we going to realise this? I’ll tell you. When it’s too late.