This past Sunday, the new Miss America was crowned, Nina Davuluri from our own state of New York. During the week that followed, what was most touted about the new heir to the crown was that she was the first contestant to win who was of Indian descent. That, and the racist tweets that apparently blew up twitter not long after she won.
Some of them ranted about her race and that the title didn’t go to a blonde, blue-eyed, white woman:
Killer 6 days ago
How long do we have to keep pretending the blonde hair, blue eyed chick from Texas isn't the hottest because of Political Correctness?- http://tv.yahoo.com/news
Others ranted about how she looked like an Arab terrorists:
“Americans be like ‘we will always remember 9/11′ and miss America goes to…. [and he posts a pic of a Taliban fighter]”-Luke Brasili, http://blogs.ajc.com
There been a host of defenders for Ms. Davuluri, and she herself has acknowledged that there were people who disliked her as the current Miss America. She stated that she has to rise above the objections though and good for her do doing so.
At this point, it should be no surprise to us to hear some people attacking others in the name of patriotism and American apple pie. As human beings, we feel the need to generalize other human beings and the world around us. It’s how we deal with the constant changes of the world. You would see it walking down the Main St of Rochester. Many people will ignore anyone who is dressed in urban clothing, figuring them to be unsafe or homeless people begging for money. During wartime this need because much more heightened and intense.
During such times, we need to cling to what make us special, what makes who we are. That becomes much easier when the enemy or outsider has no specific identity, nameless. To know anything about their needs, beliefs, desires, and grievances risks losing the foundation and momentum of the cause or our community. This is the core of the latest example with this year’s Miss America.
The irony of guilt by group association exists in stark contrast with the classic American individualism. When it comes to others holding us responsible for some imagined offense because of what someone we know did, we distance ourselves from it. “We didn’t do that”, we say. This is a contrast not often acknowledged and will probably continue to exist as long as we feel we’re at war with terrorists or feel under threat by new changes to our society.