Strange Bedfellows See Affirmative Action in Beauty Contest

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.