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May 17, 2010

Hmmm...: Muslim Woman Wins Miss USA Crown

Daniel Pipes calls it Affirmative Action in beauty contests, noticing a trend of recent Muslim winners in the US and Europe. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing -- there may be some benefit to empowering, and, frankly, sexualizing Muslim women.

Debbie Schlussel notes, however, that very pointed questions could have been posed to this woman-- for example, would she denounce Hezbollah, which controls the area of Lebanon her family hails fromf?

A high-profile Muslim woman denouncing Hezbollah, or, more broadly, terrorism generally, would be such a thing of beauty I'd giver her eight crowns if I could. But she didn't denounce them; the judges were too cowardly to even ask her about it.

I can't vouch for Schlussel's sources, and I don't, actually, assume this to be true -- not without independent confirmation.

But still: it would have been a good question to ask.

She was born in the Hezbollah stronghold of Srifa in South Lebanon, which Israel was forced to attack in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war because it was a site of Hezbollah weaponry. Her devout Muslim family comes from the Hezbollah-controlled South Lebanon. Intelligence sources confirm that at least three of Fakih’s relatives are currently top officials in Hezbollah and that at least eight Fakih family members were Hezbollah terrorists killed by the Israelis in past Israel-Lebanese wars and interventions. Some of her family members were originally in Harakat Amal [the Shi'ite Amal militia], which is now essentially a part of Hezbollah. There’s a reason that even Al-Manar TV–Hezbollah’s official TV network–is high on Fakih in the Miss USA pageant.

Again, I don't mind a Muslim woman winning this; I think it could be kinda-sorta a good message, and I don't give a fig otherwise about who should "really win" or who was most deserving. I know these women work hard, but the whole pageant is a PR exercise in the first place, so I don't mind PR being part of the criteria for selecting a winner.

But, if messaging is going to count in these contests, let's make sure it's good messaging.

Why on earth was a Muslim woman not asked to perform the useful function of denouncing violence and championing liberal Enlightenment values?

Was it because they feared her answer? Well, if they feared her answer -- then she shouldn't win. If Carrie Prejean can't win for expressing support of traditional marriage -- if that's too religious-nutty for these people -- then how can we have a winner who can't be asked to affirm peace and nonviolence?

But perhaps they simply avoided difficult political questions altogether, you might think. Perhaps they are avoiding last year's Perez Hilton controversy, and want to keep the questions inoffensive and apolitical, the way it used to be.


Miss Oklahoma is asked about that hot-button -- and her answer counted against her, of course; it's not a "pretty" answer, as Perez Hilton said last year of Carrie Prejean -- but we can't have a Muslim woman asked about terrorism?

I don't know if Schlussel is right about this woman's family being Hezballah-connected. Could be true, could be false, could be very distant family relations that count for little in her life.

But if we're going to hash out questions of public policy and shared values in these contests -- as we are, it seems -- then why can we not ask a Muslim woman about the most important question of the decade? Why can we not enlist her on our side as a public-relations princess affirming the value of human life and denouncing terrorist murder?

Or is that too controversial? Arizona's law isn't too controversial to ask about; but it's somehow wrong to ask someone to denounce terrorist murder?

I really do think it's kind of a cool thing that a Muslim woman should win this. I think it's kind of nice for plurality and diversity and blahblahbleeblahblah and I also think it could be useful, in a small way, in the culture war for the Islamic soul. A culture war that, by the way, is an actual war, with bombings and bullets and death.

I don't think she should be "picked on" just because she's Arabic or Muslim.

But this is an important question. And if a Southern, conservative Christian woman can be asked about the hot-button issue of immigration, on pain of forfeiting the contest for failure to echo the PC answer the judges want, is it too much to ask this woman to take a stand on a much more important question?

Correction: I originally wrote this half-assuming Schlussel's charges about Miss USA being connected, by family, to Hezballah to be true, at least in a provisional sort of way.

I have rewritten it to be much more dubious about that charge, for a couple of reasons.

First, it's a big charge, and it's not fair to level without real evidence.

Second, apart from Schlussel's assertion that "intelligence sources" confirm this, I have no evidence at all -- and Michelle Malkin, for one, avoids that claim herself. If Malkin winds up affirming that charge, I'll believe it.

But I don't have to believe this woman to be a terrorist or terrorist-supporter to believe that if we're going to be asking difficult questions of beauty pageant contests, we can and should be asking them if they support murder or not.

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posted by Ace at 04:38 PM

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