Miss America Meets the Morons

(Photo: AP via NPR)

Living in a world that hosts a large population of bigoted, ignorant people can do strange things to you. For instance, I never thought for a minute that I would, at any point in my life, find myself writing an opinion piece on a Miss America pageant contest or its aftermath. Indeed, it seemed impossible, and yet here I am doing exactly that.

A few days ago, a New Yorker of Indian descent, Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America. Nina’s ethnic and cultural heritage seemed to have caused havoc among the inhabitants of Trolland, that mythical place in the cyberspace where intelligence goes missing all too easily, all too often.

Reading all these comments I could not help but remember Konrad Adenauer’s reflection on this issue: “In view of the fact that God limited the intelligence of man, it seems unfair that he did not also limit his stupidity,” and boy, was he right.

Twitter enthusiasts impervious to the historical fact that the United States are the result of wave upon wave of migrants over more than 200 years, could not disguise their contempt and bigotry. And so they attacked; and they attacked with fury and humongous stupidity.

“And the Arabs win Miss America,” wrote one. “This is America, not India,” wrote another. “Have we forgotten 9/11?” posted a third. Others, more incensed, went for the jugular and accused her of being Al Qaeda and a terrorist.

Reading all these comments I could not help but remember Konrad Adenauer’s reflection on this issue: “In view of the fact that God limited the intelligence of man, it seems unfair that he did not also limit his stupidity,” and boy, was he right.

As it happens Nina is not the first person to be at the end of a barrage of impulsive and daft racist remarks this year. Take, for example, the case of Marc Anthony. Back in July he was given the task of singing “God Bless America” at the Major League Baseball All-Star game. What should have been a dull and forgettable affair soon turned into a vortex of controversy.

The rightful patriotic heirs of the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation suddenly found the courage to come out of their racist closets. They called the New York-born singer many things, including but not limited to, spic, damn Mexican, Spanish guy, and un-American.

Marc Anthony, a big boy as he is, didn’t measure his punches when he eventually got back to his critics during “Live with Kelly and Michael“: “Let’s get this straight,” he replied. “I was born and raised in New York. You can’t get more New York than me.”

Now, if you think that Nina and Marc where alone, you are sadly wrong. When the M-Team (“m” is for “moronic”) as I call them after the A-Team, is out in full force, not even children escape their daft comments. And so, only weeks before Marc Anthony had to deal with them, Sebastien de la Cruz, an 11-year-old child born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, and who had recently been a contestant in “America’s Got Talent,” dared to sing “The Star Spangled Banner” at Game 3 of the NBA finals. The horror!

You would think that a child would have been treated with a little bit of consideration, right? Well, he wasn’t; Sebastien was called a snuck, a wetback, a beaner, an illegal migrant, and many more revolting epithets (you certainly can’t blame the M-Team for lacking imagination). What has this world come to? Asked one of the trolls. Indeed, I’m wondering, what has this world come to?

Have these racist brutes realized that the sports they follow (and I am assuming they follow baseball and basketball, since they watched Marc Anthony and Sebastien de la Cruz perform) are as appealing as they are to large extent thanks, precisely, to their many non-American stars, which include people from virtually every geographic area of the planet?

How about a 2013 baseball season without Miguel Cabrera, José Bautista, Yasiel Puig or Mariano Rivera? How many magical moments would have been lost had the likes of Drazen Petrovic, Arvydas Sabonis, Patrick Ewing or Hakeem Olajuwon been left out of NBA squads because the members of the M-Team thought that as foreigners they were not worthy of playing an American game?

Of course the malady runs much more deeper than that, and in the cases of Nina, Marc and Sebastien, the grievance is bigger because as it happens all three are born and raised in the United States. What gives an American who descend from say Europeans or Africans (and yes, there were African-Americans having a go at them too), the right to decide who is American and who is not, basing their opinion on physical appearances? When will they come to terms with the fact that America is not a white nation, and that their beloved country already has the fifth largest Spanish-speaking population in the world.

The saddest part of this story is that by the look of things, we should not expect any improvements in this front. Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and other social media of their kind, provide the M-Team with the opportunity to shout obscenities to whoever they deem not to be American enough, because of the way they look or dress.

Perhaps if these xenophobic, easy-to-offend internet creatures are really concerned about the future of their country, they should start by having a long look at themselves in the mirror. Each and every one of their words leads me to believe that George Bernard Shaw was spot on when he once commented “an asylum for the sane would be empty in America.”

An exaggeration perhaps, yes, but you get my point.

 

Manuel Barcia is Deputy Director at the Institute for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies at the University of Leeds in the U.K.