Public’s reaction to Miss America shows shameful post 9/11 xenophobia

Nina Davuluri, whose parents hail from India, was the contestant from New York.

Miss America press photo

Nina Davuluri, whose parents hail from India, was the contestant from New York.

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The day that changed America, September 11th, 2001, forever altered our role as a major superpower in the 21st century. What also changed was our attitude as a nation; hurt by people who didn’t look, act, or talk like the majority among us, we were put on high alert to the “dangers” of foreigners and the damage they could yet again bring us.

Sunday, September 15th, we were reminded of this dark time in America’s history. Our negative and understandable response to a horrific event was resurfacing in a malicious form, this time at the Ms. America pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. As Indian-American Nina Davuluri stepped up to accept the title of “Ms. America,” twitter and other social media sites exploded with some of the most derogatory and hateful comments in the pageant’s history.

As a New Yorker by birth, Ms. Davuluri was American by all standards, but she was accused of being an “Arab,” a “terrorist,” and even a member of Al Qaeda. These responses, which came in by the thousands, represent an unfortunate truth about American society today: our prejudice towards those of difference to us.

Throughout American history, there have been countless stains of discrimination, ranging from the tumultuous relationship with the Native Americans, the enslavement of African Americans, and mistreatment of Asian and Hispanic Americans. We have always had a propensity to fear those who were not similar to the Europeans who took over this land we now call America. This has been especially true for those of middle-eastern descent, or those who “looked Arab,” after the tragedy in September 2001, such as Ms. Davuluri. It would behoove us to examine the harm that tossing hatred towards an entire group of people, who never played a part in such a destruction as 9/11, causes.

Let us as American’s pay the victims and survivors of the 9/11 attacks respect, by honoring the sacrifices made, and spreading love, not hatred.”

— Parker Breza

Being home to one of the largest Somali communities in the United States, Minnesota is no stranger to this prejudice. The names thrown out, and the spiteful attitudes exhibited are just some examples of the tension that was caused by such an attack. But like Davuluri, Somalis aren’t even from the Middle-East and yet, heard the same racial-slurs, and experienced the same discrimination.

The hijackers of the four planes did not speak for a country, they did not speak for an entire culture, they did not speak for those who spoke Arabic, and they did not speak for those who were Muslim. Those who spoke that day spoke something else: hatred. A language the majority of the Middle-East does not speak, but something that was spoken by some Americans last Sunday.

The wounds are still open from those attacks on 9/11, and they likely will be for quite some time. However, let us as Americans unite around embracing the multi-cultural society we were founded on, embrace the new Ms. America Nina Davuluri, and most importantly pay the victims and survivors of the 9/11 attacks respect, by honoring the sacrifices made, and spreading love, not hatred.

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