Miss USA controversy: Did her crown come straight from the PC police?

Rima-FakihImage Credit: Denise Truscello/WireImage.comThe inevitable time has come for certain conservative commentators to level charges of reverse-racism at Rima Fakih’s Miss USA win. The Lebanese-born immigrant, who was representing Michigan in the pageant, became the first Arab-American to win the crown last night.

Mere hours later, the backlash began. Pundit Daniel Pipes posited an “odd form of affirmative action” on his blog, noting the “surprising frequency of Muslims winning beauty pageants.” (His examples: a 2007 America’s Junior Miss, a 2006 Miss England, and a 2005 Miss Nottingham. Yes, sir, the takeover is staggering.) Fox News, meanwhile, undermined her win by questioning whether, essentially, she got it by default after the blond Miss Oklahoma, Elizabeth Woolard, spoke out in favor of Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration law — when asked about it during the interview portion by judge/Office star Oscar Nunez — by defending “states’ rights.” Woolard ended the night as first-runner-up, which, for some observers, seemed to echo Carrie Prejean’s fate last year after her answer reflected her opposition to gay marriage. Added Fox’s account: “Fakih, an Arab-American from Dearborn, Michigan, took home the crown, despite nearly tripping on her evening gown.” Other web chatter today brings us everything from evidence that she won a pole-dancing contest in college — while fully clothed in a tank top and shorts, as if just coming from gym class, which seems pretty moot after this pageant-sanctioned lingerie shoot — to weird, baseless accusations of ties to terrorists.

All this sturm und drang over a beauty contest run by Donald Trump.

First: Really, anyone’s questioning whether this woman is pretty enough to win a beauty contest? Have you seen her? Second, she did it after tackling an equally controversial interview question about whether birth control should be covered by health insurance. (In case you’re interested, she thinks so: “I believe that birth control is just like every other medication, even though it’s a controlled substance,” she said. And as a side note, I like this recent addition of real issues questions to the pageant. It’s not so much that I care what they think, but that they think at all.)

All of that said, I’ll make a far bolder claim: It’s okay to consider someone’s background in awarding a pageant title. She’ll serve as a role model to Arab-American girls who, perhaps, haven’t felt that they belonged — goodness knows they may have encountered reason to feel otherwise in the last several years. But more to the point, she’s also inherently had more to overcome in getting to this point, and that’s something to be recognized, at least when it comes to an honorary, representative title that’s supposed to reflect ephemeral qualities like character and poise in addition to genetic gifts. And it should be noted she displayed personality to spare during the competition — I like a less-than-perfect girl who trips on her gown and, when asked how she felt about winning, answered, “Ask me after I’ve had a pizza.” If girls are looking to beauty pageants for role models, that’s the one I want up there.

Comments (58 total) Add your comment
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  • Deo

    Did these people watch her during the swimsuit competition? After seeing her work that, it’s quite obvious why she won!

    • model4tee4

      Oh please, she’s absolutely gorgeous!! So tired of the bland blah cookie cutter blondes. What a refreshing change.

  • Momo

    I dislike these pageants, but even I can admit that the lady who won is absolutely beautiful. Can’t these people complaining of “reverse discrimination” even see?

  • Levente

    So… birth control is a controlled substance? Is this new?? Is it because it has the word control in it? My boyfriend and I laughed at her answer because of that, and… my insurance does pay for most of my birth control. She is gorgeous, but I thought there were better answers given by a couple of women.

    • erin

      birth control is a controlled substance (at least as far as the pill) because you need a prescription to get it

      • mandy

        Incorrect. Free birth control is available without prescriptions at clinics like Planned Parenthood all over the US

      • erin

        no, mandy, even if it is free you still have to get a prescription

      • J

        It’s still not a “controlled substance.” A controlled substance is not simply any prescription medication. There’s a specific list of substances regulated by the government, and it includes both legal and illegal drugs which are have a high potential for abuse. Birth control pills are not on the list. They are not controlled substances.

    • summer

      lol nobody cares about her answer to birth control. She is stunning,she was prettier than everybody else.

      • Eric

        Sorry this screen is weird I replied to the wrong thread. Who we need as a model is good family values and respect for the law. I won’t be surprised if a lesbian is chosen one day…..shudder….

    • Eric

      Insurance should not be FORCED to cover birth control. Maybe you need to learn some abstience education that obviously wans’t given to you in your liberal probably East Coast or California high school. The availability of birth control sends the message….its ok to sleep around and hook up randomly, just use a condom and take the pills and you won’t get pregnant. Never mind that its IMMORAL to have random sex outside a relationship, or perhaps you don’t think so.

      Plus its a slippery slope,I’m glad with all his radicalism, at least Obama wasn’t able to make abortions covered in the new health plan.

      • honestman

        Views like these explain why over 40% of births in US are out of wedlock

  • SImon

    I think Rima Fakih is a breath of fresh air to the Miss Universe Organization – she shined throughout last night’s competition. Morgan Elizabeth Woolard (aka Miss Oklahoma) seemed stiff to me towards the end of the night. Count me in as a huge fan of Miss USA 2010!

  • Tad

    We all now live in a political correct climate and this is a clear indication of it. Miss USA is supposed to be a role model and speaker but just listening to hear speak it shows that even her english is not good. Hooray for Miss Oklahoma who is smart enough to realize that states rights are more important than the federal governments view of illegal immigration. It would have been interesting if Miss Michigan would have gotten the immigration question since I am sure she probably immigrated legally, would she throw everyone else under the bus?

    • Momo

      I don’t understand – are you arguing that because she speaks in an accented English she would therefore not be a good role model? I’m not jumping in the illegal immigration debate, but I do have a bone to pick with your first logic.

    • Eric

      My parents are LEGAL immigrants from Asia. I would be insulted if anyone would mention my father and mother and those illegal aliens in the same sentence. My parents came here LEGALLY, they’re not rich but worked for and earned everything they have. They never spent a day on welfare. They love this country and pay taxes. They didn’t ask people to bend over backwards and cater to them. My family has NOTHING in common with those border jumpers, no more in common than a middle class white person would have with a white drug dealer.

  • Tad

    So much for believing that a woman should cover her body I bet she will not be making in speaking engagements in Irag or Iran!

    • erin

      She is Lebanese. There is no such restriction on women’s clothing in Lebanon. The Middle East is not a monolith, you know.

      • Lisa Simpson

        No, he obviously doesn’t know.

  • Rebecca

    Um Dude who wrote this, birth control pills are not a controlled substance, that might explain some of the questions about her win. If still in doubt check the dictionary for the meaning of controlled substance, but don’t be suprised if you see things like cocaine and such…duh

    • s-k-s

      Umm, Rebecca, birth control pills ARE a controlled substance. They are only available by prescription, which is the definition of a controlled substance.

  • Monty

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but you need a perscription to get birth control pills? It isn’t a controlled substance in the sense that it is akin to cocaine, which is a “controlled substance” in accordance with the law, but one could say needing a perscription is in effect “controlling” its distribution and use?

    in retrospect, this is getting too in depth for a beauty pagent. She’s hot. If she was the hottest, she should win, no (or at least a combo of whatever they were voting on in addition to looks)?

    • Momo

      Completely agree! These pageants should just drop all pretenses of pretending to be relevant and insightful and just be what it is – a contest amongst hot young women vying to be the hottest of them all. Not that I agree with that idea at all, but I at least think these things should stop pretending to be what it isn’t.

    • R

      By the way, I agree with you, I don’t care whether Miss USA knows that or not haha. I just hate all these people spouting off absolute nonsense about the issue as if they wrote law themselves.

  • Mike

    Isn’t it kind of galling that someone would ask this? I mean, could she not have won this legitimately? Are only certain ethnicities considered legitimate winners?

    • Angel


      Don’t you know by now. Only white people are supposed to get good jobs. Now, they are the only ones that are supposed to win beauty contests because in this country only white people are beutiful.

    • Angel

      Beautiful….Ooops, I misspelled a word. I might not be qualified for my good job.

  • David

    EW: waaahhh, waaahh, waaahhh, Republicans are bad, waahhh, waahhh, waahhh. The idiocy that emerges from some right wing and left wing blogs is ridiculous. But I only read about the right wings ones here.

    • AK

      Well, next time a stupid left wing blogger makes a stupid claim of reverse racism against a stupid pageant that no one cares about – oh, wait.

  • Dany De Beaumarchais

    Her face view from the side is not the best.

  • laura

    It does not matter if she trip or can’t speak ‘correct’ English ( TAD ;p ) or what she said about the pill … all in all that fact that EVERYONE is talking about this show is what matters to Trump.

  • Temp

    Too bad no one asked her if shes a fan of South Park

  • Grace W.

    She’s clearly beautiful. Who cares what her ancestry is? Apparently Fox News didn’t stop to think that maybe there are actually white Americans out there who don’t scream “reverse racism!” every time a non-white person wins something.

    Can’t we just be happy for her and let her enjoy her moment?

    • Kazzy

      Thank you Grace..I love the USA, it’s the best country in the world (and I was born in England). I don’t want this country to turn into a racist country like the rest of the world has become in various degrees. Anyone living in this great country who thinks color is a valid reason to be superior, be they pro black, pro white or pro any other color then I say pack your bags and move to another country, just don’t try to make this country like the rest of the world…we are all living together in harmony and trying to improve this country, we have our issues but we’ll overcome them one step at a time…God bless USA.

      • Andrew

        Kazzy, I am what is termed as a republican and it fills my heart with immense pride when I hear someone new to our country speak in such a glowing way, I wish the naysayers would take a leaf out of your book and praise this country rather than negate it’s obvious influence in world affairs.

  • Allan

    The contrast between the winner and runner-up could hardly have been greater. Miss Oklahoma was completely poised, beautiful and elegant while Miss Michigan was kind of a mess and her gown was horrendous. Still, she did have a great personality and her swimsuit competition, as noted above, was HOT. I thought all of the finalists answered their questions OK and was impressed that Miss Oklahoma understood that the judge was asking about states rights. Her answer was nothing like the Carrie Prejean train-wreck last year. Miss Michigan just had a more natural personality and I’m glad she won.

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