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Nina Davuluri, a lovely young woman from New York, won the Miss America pageant last night. This is not normally big news, but this year the Miss America pageant became a win for American diversity.
Miss Davuluri is the daughter of immigrants from India, and she chose to showcase her heritage in a commitment to what she calls “Celebrating Diversity Through Cultural Competency.” For the talent portion of the competition, she performed classic Indian dances fused with Bollywood moves.
This was apparently too much for the ‘culturally incompetent’ racists and Islamophobes in our country. They immediately took to Twitter and lambasted the pageant for picking an Indian American. They addressed racist tweets to her. One “particularly uninformed tweeter” called her a Muslim.
Miss Davuluri herself recognizes that the U.S. is far from where it needs to be on this issue. “We fall behind due to a lack of understanding the diversity that exists in our country—an issue that exists at the local, state, and national levels.”
But how far behind became dangerously apparent, also on Twitter, as Todd Starnes, the host of Fox News and Commentary, not only critiqued the pageant’s “liberalism,” he suggested that Miss Kansas should have used a gun instead of (in addition to?) singing opera at the end.
These tweets are dangerously inflammatory and the kind of thing that keeps anger flowing at our increasing diversity. These attitudes keep us from reaching understanding on diversity and achieving cultural competency.
These kinds of provocations in the public square are really an assault on our national values, the values of freedom and tolerance.
Our national life is at stake in promoting freedom and tolerance through diversity. On some days, literally at stake.
Todd Starnes’ subsequent tweets are about the mass shooting at the DC Navy Yard.
Does Mr. Starnes appreciate how inappropriate it was for him to call for Miss Kansas, competing at the Miss American pageant, to have “fired off a few rounds” in light of yet another mass shooting? I fear he does not.
Diversity is not a threat to our values, Mr. Starnes; in fact, diversity confirms our American values of freedom and tolerance. But at every turn we as Americans are confronted with more and more examples of how an out of control gun culture does threaten our way of life.