Jonathan Chait

Right-Wing Beauty Pageant Conspiracists Strike Back

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Conservatives continue to seethe over the Miss USA triumph of Lebanese-American Rima Fakih:

"Miss Hezbollah is now Miss USA," declared conservative radio talk show host Debbie Schlussel, saying that Fakih's relatives in Lebanon had ties to the terrorist organization based there. Schlussel also said Fakih received some financial backing from onetime Hezbollah supporter Imad Hamad or, as Schlussel put it, Fakih's "bid for the pageant was financed by an Islamic terrorist." Suggesting the pageant was "rigged," Schlussel wrote off Fakih's victory to a "politically correct, Islamo-pandering climate."

Okay, Debbie Schlussel is a racist. But look at some of the other complaints:

Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin saw a conspiracy afoot, too generic rather than Muslim-specific this time. Malkin mocked Fakih as a "gaffetastic" contestant who tripped over her gown as well as over her answer to a question about birth control exposing Fakih's ignorance, Malkin argued, about what constitutes a "controlled substance" and what the purpose of health care is. "Looks like the Miss USA pageant didn't want to risk the wrath of the open-borders mob," Malkin said.

Immigration was in fact another flashpoint of political controversy over the contest. Runner-up Morgan Elizabeth Woolard of Oklahoma was asked for her views on Arizona's recent immigration law, a question that drew boos from the crowd before the judge actor Oscar Nunez of "The Office" could even finish getting it out. ...

"Fox & Friends" host Gretchen Carlson (herself a former Miss America) suggested that perhaps Woolard's conservative-leaning "informed opinion" was enough for the judges to exercise political correctness and award the crown to Fakih over a blonde from Oklahoma.

A couple reactions. First, what is the matter with these people that they complain about the outcome of a beauty pageant? How can you take this seriously as some kind of meritocratic process? And second, are there any prominent conservative women who did not compete in beauty pageants when they were young?

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