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Strange Bedfellows See Affirmative Action in Beauty Contest

By Sonia Scherr on May 18, 2010 - 3:36 pm, Posted in Anti-Arab, Anti-Muslim

Does an ardent Jewish neo-conservative ever agree with an anti-Semite who despises neo-conservatives?

We didn’t think so, until the Miss USA contest showed that Muslim-bashing author Daniel Pipes and racist radio host James Edwards do indeed share some common ground. The men suggested on their respective blogs that 24-year-old Rima Fakih of Dearborn, Mich., captured the pageant crown on Sunday because of her Muslim religion (Pipes) or her Arab ethnicity (Edwards).

Edwards, the “Political Cesspool” host who has claimed that white women are physically superior, griped that he wasn’t surprised by Fakih’s win. “It’s pretty much a federal law now that beauty pageant winners have to be non-white,” he wrote in his Monday blog post, “and now that Arabs are the latest ‘oppressed minority,’ they’re finally getting their place at the top of the quota totem pole.”

Meanwhile, Pipes — whose resume includes posts at elite universities, a stint at the State Department, and a presidential appointment to the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace — made a remarkably similar point. In an article titled “Affirmative Action in Beauty Contests?” posted on his website Sunday, Pipes posted the names (and photos) of six Muslim women who had won pageants in America and Europe over the past five years.

“They are all attractive,” he conceded, “but 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 Agriculture and Technical State University.” Pipes went on to quote from an article about Rasheed’s coronation that described her tiara sitting atop her hijab, the headscarf traditionally worn by Muslim women. (None of the other Muslim contest winners in Pipes’ article were pictured wearing the hijab.)

In an update posted Monday on his website, Pipes shared three non-critical responses from readers who wrote to him about the article. They included the following item, which Pipes presented without comment: “No surprise here. Affirmative action was first applied in beauty contests for black women to win in the 1980s, then it was the turn of Latin, brown skinned women, and now it’s Muslims. That’s why most people ignore these rigged ‘events.’ They are money losers and require controversy.”

Elsewhere, however, bloggers were taken aback by Pipes’ article. David Weigel, who writes the “Right Now” blog for The Washington Post, had this response: “Wow.” A spokeswoman for the Miss USA pageant told The Daily Beast, an online publication, that she didn’t believe Fakih’s victory had “anything to do with affirmative action.” (Actually, though she’s from a Shiite family, Fakih attended Catholic schools growing up and celebrates both Muslim and Christian faiths with her family, according to The Associated Press.)

Late Monday, Pipes posted another update dismissing the outcry provoked by his blog item. “Somebody doth protest too much,” he wrote.

Pipes’ post wasn’t the only one to suggest that Fakih benefited because of her religion. “I just wonder if this whole contest is rigged,” anti-Islam blogger Debbie Schlussel wrote on Sunday. “I have a feeling that it is. Clearly, there is affirmative action for Muslim women in beauty pageants and other such ‘contests.’” In a blog post Tuesday, Schlussel called Fakih “Miss Hezbollah” and stated that “her family is chock full of top Hezbollah terrorists.”

We thank Hatewatch reader Mason Green for the tip that inspired this blog post.

  • beholder

    She’s Lebanese, not Arab.


    Congratulations to Rima Fakih for winning the Miss USA pageant.

    The right-wing’s hostility to her winning is rooted in an extreme view that we are in a clash of civilizations pitting Christianity against Islam.

    This is nonsense.

    But, having an Arab-American-Muslim woman win amounts in their view to cultural treason. “How dare they choose the Enemy Other! We are at war! Death to all Muslims,” they want to scream.

    So, they grasp at straws to paint her as an “Islamo-fascist” or a “terrorist.”

    But, at a deeper level it suggests a fear of miscegenation. They are aghast at the very idea that a white American male could find such a woman attractive as a sexual partner, or, even a marital partner.

    This sexual fear is at the root of white supremacy. White males could (and did) rape African American women at will. But, an African American male was always a danger to rape a white woman.

    In this case, they do not want to physically rape Rima Fakih. But, they do want to rape her emotionally, psychologically, and culturally.

    At bottom, they want to deny her her humanity.

    During the Bosnian war, the Bosniac (Muslim) residents of Sarajevo held beauty contests. It was their way of affirming they were alive and their refusal to perish. If you read some accounts, it was also their way of reminding themselves of what they were fighting for. The beauty pageants were just a symbol of their right to exist as they pleased.

    It was a symbol of defiance to the Bosnian Serbs who sought to exterminate them physically, eradicate their culture, and render them invisible to the outside world.

    And, the Bosnian Serbs deliberately employed the rape of Bosniac women and girls as a tactic of their genocidal campaign of ethnic cleansing.

    The Western media covered these beauty pageants–and the message was delivered: we are still alive and we refuse to perish.

  • beholder

    I wonder what they would say about Miss Black America?

  • skinnyminny

    This is what I said a few months ago about this, there are beautiful women throughout the world. There’s a Turkish actress name Sibel Kekilli, she’s beautiful. The thing is, in other countries, sometimes the most beautiful women don’t need to leave their countries. It wasn’t that I was trying to be mean-spirited, I was just saying that there are other beautiful women, and they don’t have to be blue-eyed, blonde hair, and they don’t have to be light-skinned. For example, the men fell head over heels for the Indian actress Frieda Pinto, and she was not light-skinned, blonde hair with blue eyes.

  • Mason Green


    What you mentioned is also true in India (where skin-whitening products sell like hotcakes) and Mexico, among other places.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    What is sad is if you look at a country like Turkey for example, where every man wants a blonde Russian girl and all the stars of TV and film seem to be the most European among them. Even when you look in their ads around town, in Istanbul for example, you’d think these cartoon characters on the signs belong in Germany or something.

  • beholder

    Or it could simply be that our global standards of esthetics have gone the same way as European influence everywhere — into decline.

    The increasing prestige of the “beauty of color” is indeed a blow to compulsory whiteness and another sign of the changing demographics among the global elite. I can see how this would be a troubling reminder to supremacists that the “white pass”, which is the racial entitlement to privilege, has expired in America.

    However, if we are to embrace true feminine beauty and not stereotypes, we must recognize that true beauty is a state of mind, not a state of body. I am not denying the cultural and social significance of physical beauty.

    However, it has nothing to do with race and everything to do with attitude: both of the admirer and the admired.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    What a bunch of butt-hurt losers. So all these white women won on merit alone, but the second someone non-white wins it’s a conspiracy!!!

  • Peter Gast

    Alternative Right agrees with the neocons, too!