CAN WE PLEASE STOP BEING RACIST WHEN WE OBJECTIFY WOMEN? #MissAmerica— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) September 16, 2013
If you follow me on Twitter or pay any attention to the daily "My Tweets" post, you probably already saw the above tweet. You may not be aware of what prompted it -- several of the people I talked to at Luke House tonight were blissfully unaware of the "controversy" -- but basically it was another instance of a bunch of racist assholes on Twitter acted like racist assholes on Twitter.
The precipitating event this time around was that Syracuse, New York native Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America last night. As you might have guessed from the name, Miss Davuluri is of Indian descent, and the sight of a woman with brown skin -- one whose talent was Bollywood-style dance, no less -- being crowned Miss America was enough to drive certain less enlightened folks to vent their spleens on Twitter. A sampling, courtesy of Buzzfeed:
And the Arab wins Miss America. Classic.
Egypt dancing? This is America. #MissAmerica
#MissAmerica ummm wtf?! Have we forgotten 9/11?
Congratulations Al-Qaeda. Our Miss America is one of you.
Miss New York is an Indian.. With all do respect, this is America
In a way, what's most depressing about this is how unexpected it is. You saw much the same thing in July after Marc Anthony, another native New Yorker, sang "God Bless America" at the MLB All-Star Game, and in June when San Antonio, Texas native Sebastien de la Cruz sang the national anthem before game three of the NBA finals, and last year when African-American actress Amandla Stenberg was cast as Rue, described in the book as having "dark brown skin and eyes," in The Hunger Games movie. Then there were the people who mistook American labor leader Cesar Chavez with Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez when Google honored the former with a Google Doodle on his birthday.
Of course, when you've got a user base as large as Twitter's, you're bound to find a reasonably large population of any given subgroup, and of course that would include racists. The good news is that like many unpleasant creatures, sunlight sends them scurrying back into hiding. Of the five Twitter users I quoted above, which I chose more or less at random, three of them have deleted their account, another made his account private, and the fifth deleted the Tweet. I imagine the same thing happened after the Anthony, de la Crus, and Stenberg incidents. I would never deny these folks the right to free speech, but I have no objection to publicly shaming them into silence.