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Politically Judging the Modern Day Miss USA Pageant Contestant

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Tonight, the 2010 Miss USA Pageant was broadcasted live by NBC from Las Vegas, where the event took place at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.  Miss Michigan USA Rima Fakih bested 49 other women in the competition to become the new national titleholder while Miss Oklahoma USA Morgan Elizabeth Woolard placed as the first runner-up.  It will be interesting to see how these results unfold in the coming weeks given their apparent twist of irony amid the increasingly politicized environment of the pageant. 

Few may have forgotten about former Miss California USA Carrie Prejean’s onstage interview at the 2009 Miss USA Pageant in which she was asked about her position on “gay marriage.”  Her response in favor of traditional marriage made her an instant target for criticism and vicious attacks from far-left tabloids and gay activists, and may have cost her not only the Miss USA crown but eventually the Miss California USA crown.  What was supposed to be a rewarding, enriching, and memorable experience for Prejean quickly turned into a nightmare due to an honest answer to a question that never should have been asked.

Fast-forward to this year’s pageant where Woolard was asked about Arizona’s new immigration reform law.  She stated her support of a state’s right to pass such a law and that she is personally opposed to illegal immigration as well as racial profiling.  “I think it’s perfectly fine for Arizona to create that law,” she said.  The question was asked by pageant judge Oscar Nunez of NBC’s The Office, who was booed by the audience before he could finish.

Given the fallout from the infamous, hyper-controversial question that had been asked during last year’s pageant, one would be under the impression that Miss USA pageant officials would exercise (no pun intended) greater caution this year and avoid the hot-button issues currently dividing our nation.  Instead, another hotly-debated issue came up during the onstage interview segment of the pageant.  Interestingly, the immigration question was asked of Miss Oklahoma (Woolard), whose home state endured similar attacks as Arizona for another immigration-related law that had been signed by Governor Brad Henry in early May 2007.  Once signed, the law made it more difficult for illegal aliens to have access to taxpayer-funded benefits and employment within the state of Oklahoma.

Call me dated, but I remember during my days as a contestant in the Miss Wisconsin Teen USA Pageant in the late 1990s, the questions asked by the judges and emcee focused more on how well my fellow competitors and I were serving our communities, how we were addressing problems among our peers, and our familiarity with general current events (nothing controversial at all).  What have we done to make a positive impact on others?  In what way did we help a friend or classmate confront a challenge?  In what ways should drug abuse in schools be dealt with?

To some, the Miss USA Pageant is seen as a national past time.  It’s an event featuring 50 beautiful women vying for a crown and the opportunity to represent the United States at the Miss Universe Pageant.  These women are joined by family, friends, and viewers across the nation, all united in the spirit of friendly competition and proudly representing every state in the country.  Sadly, it appears as though the pageant is becoming more of a reflection of how divided America is becoming, rather than a small symbol of national unity.

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Written by Stephanie

May 17, 2010 at 6:01 am