Beauty pageants are irrelevant.

Short of Donald Trump, I don’t think anybody knew the Miss USA pageant was happening last week, and short of the judges and contestants, I don’t think anybody cared that Rima Fakih took home the crown. This was as big a non-story as could be, just an attractive girl winning an obsolete contest and getting a purely symbolic title. How nice for her. Let’s move on.

But Rima Fakih is not just an attractive girl who won an American beauty pageant; Rima Fakih is an attractive Lebanese-American girl who won an American beauty pageant, which somehow means that Miss USA now becomes an acceptable litmus test with which to gauge the political climate of our country.

The left will celebrate this as proof that America will no longer stand for intolerance and oppression. They will get up on rooftops shouting about black presidents and middle-eastern beauty queens, and though I’m not sure that this is an altogether logical response, it is at the very least rooted in some sort of fact. Certainly, recent events have shown that our society is moving closer and closer to that idealized place where people are judged only by their character and ability, and not by their skin color and heritage. Rima Fakih’s pageant victory is certainly a sign of this ideological shift. That said, this is a single victory in a beauty pageant that hasn’t mattered since the 1980s, so I don’t think anyone should be getting too giddy.

Similarly, there’s no reason for the right wing to lose its mind like it has in the wake of Rima Fakih’s Miss USA victory. The conservative response ranges from the illogical (blaming affirmative action) to the disgusting (calling Rima Fakih a terrorist), and has done nothing but bring publicity to an event which would have otherwise gone from irrelevant to forgotten in a matter of days. Just like winning the Miss USA pageant isn’t a shining beacon of improved race relations, it certainly isn’t a sign of Muslim infiltration or terrorist victory. If the terrorists plan to destroy America by planting a sleeper Miss USA, then they’re far dumber than we could have imagined and we have absolutely nothing to worry about.

Of course, none of the this controversy would have ever gotten off the ground if Rima Fakih hadn’t stumbled in her evening gown, or if those stripper pole pictures had never been released, or if runner-up Miss Oklahoma hadn’t been asked a question about the Arizona immigration law. Doesn’t this conflagration of events prove that there’s some sort of conspiracy to give Rima Fakih the crown?


For starters, the stripper pole pictures. I see a fully-clothed adult woman doing a dance (albeit a provocative one) as part of a radio promotion. I don’t see anything offensive or immoral about it. I’ve seen Miley Cyrus, Lindsay Lohan, and other so-called “child” stars do far worse. Let’s move on.

The same goes for the evening gown stumble. People trip sometimes. Maybe we should be praising the pageant judges for recognizing that poise is not something that makes you perfect, but rather something that allows you to recover from moments of imperfection. I’d take a confident woman who can stumble and recover over a Stepford Wife any day.

Let’s move on, then, to the questions that seem to have gotten everyone riled up. Rima Fakih was asked if she believed birth control should be covered by health insurance, and she replied affirmatively while calling birth control a “controlled substance.” The critics pounced on Fakih’s supposed ignorance, but was her answer really all that wrong? Obviously, birth control is not a controlled substance, but haven’t we all made ourselves look foolish at one point or another by using technical terms we don’t fully understand? And what’s so wrong about suggesting that medical insurance should cover birth control? Though it isn’t a medical necessity, it could certainly be considered preventative in the same way that annual checkups or eye exams are. These things are not technically necessary, but they are in place to prevent necessary (and far more expensive) procedures down the line. It’s not a cut and dry example, but the argument can certainly be made.

So what about the other incendiary question, the one that supposedly lost Miss Oklahoma the crown? She was asked if Arizona’s newly passed immigration law strayed into territory that the federal government should be regulating, and in her response expressed support for states’ rights, Arizona’s in particular. Critics claim that she was penalized for not denouncing the Arizona immigration law, and this may very well be true. But what exactly is the problem if it is?

We all know that sticking to a principle can have negative consequences. If Miss Oklahoma does not think that Arizona’s immigration law deserves condemnation, then she should be praised for sticking to her beliefs. However, she must have known the possible consequences of answering that question as she did. As much as these girls prepare, she must have known who the judges were, and where their sensibilities lay. In other words, Miss Oklahoma knew she was taking a risk when she answered the question. She gambled, and unfortunately for her, she lost.

So now Rima Fakih is Miss USA. Half the country’s outraged, half is elated, and watching from one of his many penthouses, Donald Trump is the most excited of them all. He knows there is only one conspiracy here, and he knows it is of his own creation. It’s no coincidence that the same pageant that gave us a gay marriage question in 2009 has followed up with an illegal immigration question in 2010. Donald Trump knows how to get attention, and he’s found a way to breathe new life into a pageant that’s been dead for 20 years.

Rima Fakih winning was the icing on the cake, but her victory wasn’t predetermined because of her heritage. Let’s not forget that last year’s gay marriage controversy kept the pageant in the news even though the winner and the runner-up were both white blondes. There is a bit of a conspiracy at play, but it begins and ends with Donald Trump and the questions he wants asked. Beyond that, he doesn’t care who takes the crown, because he knows the real winner is his pageant, which has suddenly become newsworthy again.