Miss USA's win, and symbolism, being deconstructed by bloggers

Rima Fakih, a 24-year-old Arab American from Michigan, beat out 50 other women to take the 2010 Miss USA title, despite nearly stumbling in her evening gown.
By Krissah Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 18, 2010; 7:46 PM

Pageants are intended to be full of the kind of drama that comes wrapped up in the suspense of seeing who takes home the glittering crown. This year, it's political drama that has taken over in the aftermath of Sunday's beauty contest.

Since Miss Michigan Rima Fakih was crowned, the pageant has been deconstructed by political commentators on the right and the left.

Fakih, who is from Dearborn, was born in Lebanon and has been celebrated by Arab Americans as the first Muslim Miss USA. (Contrary to the widespread reports that Miss USA 1983, Julie Hayek, was of Arab descent on her father's side, Hayek said in an e-mail that her father grew up in Ohio and is half Czech and half German.)

Enter politics and the blogosphere.

Fakih has been hailed as a powerful representative of American diversity and the Arab American community by liberal bloggers.

Conservative commentators have a different take and have launched a debate over whether Fakih was a politically correct "affirmative action" pick.

The blog Booker Rising points to controversy over an answer from one of Fakih's competitors: "Critics claim that Ms. Fakih won after Miss Oklahoma, Elizabeth Woolard (who is white), spoke out in favor of Arizona's controversial law against illegal immigration. . . . Ms. Woolard ended as first-runner-up, which critics contend echoes then-Miss California Carrie Prejean's fate last year after voicing her opposition to gay marriage during the interview portion."

Woolard told FoxNews that she doesn't regret her answer.

"I'm a huge believer in states' rights. I think that's what's so wonderful about America. So I think it's perfectly fine for Arizona to create that law," she said.

Woolard later told FoxNews, "I was confident in my answer, there was no hesitation, and I just spoke from my heart and I believe what I said was well said and I feel strongly about that and I'm proud of my answer."

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