Race

What Do Racist Twit(ter)s About Indian American Miss America Say About America?

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Miss America

Buzzfeed is reporting that a "lot of people" are upset that Indian-American Nina Davuluri, a New Yorker who attended University of Michigan and majored in brain behavior and cognitive science, won the Michigan Merit Award, wascrowned Miss America last night. The "lot of people" consist precisely of 16 twitters (pun intended) out of a population of 300 million-plus who said the following:

"And the Arab wins Miss America. Classic."

"How the fuck does a foreigner win miss America? She is a Arab! #idiots"

"Miss Arab wins Miss America and the score of the Seattle/SanFran game is 5-0 at the half? What is life?"

"I swear I'm not racist but this is America."

"Asian or indian are you kiddin this is america omg"

"this is America. not India"

"Miss New York is an Indian.. With all do respect, this is America"

"Egypt dancing? This is America. #MissAmerica"

"9/11 was 4 days ago and she gets miss America?"

"@ABC2020 nice slap in the face to the people of 9-11 how pathetic #missamerica"

"Congratulations Al-Qaeda. Our Miss America is one of you."

"Miss America is a terrorist. Whatever. It's fine."

"So miss america is a terrorist"

"More like Miss Terrorist #MissAmerica"

"Miss America is brought to by their sponsors PF Changs and 7-11."

"Miss America, footlong buffalo chicken on whole wheat. Please and thank you."

Such remarks are unfortunate and show the utter geographical and cultural illiteracy of the commenters. But allow me to say as Reason's resident Indian American that this reflects nothing about real or unreal America and everything about the era of social networking. There always have been and always will be people everywhere in every age who prefer to live in the gutter. Social media does two things: It allows such idiots to spread their slime. And it allows entities like Buzzfeed etc. to dig in and quickly splash it across their website to generate traffic and earn brownie points (no pun intended this time) for their social righteousness.

But the fact that even the most nativist pontificator would never be allowed to say anything remotely resembling this in any publication with a gate-keeper says more about real America than a handful of ignorant remarks. This was not the case even a century ago when mainstream publications such as Wasp and the Judge were running cartoons like this:

Immigration cartoon
Public Domain

So relax my fellow Americans who've been voicing disgust and revulsion at these ignoramuses in my twitter and facebook feeds. I appreciate your concern, but we've made progress.