he crowning of the first Muslim Miss USA is a big deal, says Tunku Varadarajan in The Daily Beast. Some "clod-headed killjoys on the right" have said that, by bestowing the tiara on Rima Fakih, judges indulged in "an odd form of affirmative action." But that's missing the point. Rima Fakih has shown that embracing American culture can be liberating for a young Shiite Muslim woman. And ordinary Americans, by embracing their new beauty queen, have shown they have no beef with Islam. That "must be irksome for the mullahs" — and heartwarming to everybody else. An excerpt:
"My first reaction [to Fakih's win] was to wonder whether she was a Mossad agent in deep disguise. My second was to applaud her for the gusto of her assimilation, and for the extent to which this Muslim woman, clearly not an assiduous practitioner of her faith, had embraced American ways....
"Her American integration has been wrought by a thoroughgoing subversion of her own forefathers’ cultural norms; and I can think of few sets of cultural norms that are as mutually exclusive as those of Middle America, on the one hand, and the Shiite faith, on the other....
"The Miss USA judges may have done more to further American cultural diplomacy than all of the efforts of USAID, the State Department, and Karen Hughes combined — this, after all, is the highest honor American popular culture can bestow. As if on cue, an aunt of the beauty queen, interviewed by AFP in her village in Lebanon, said: 'She is an honor to us, an honor to all of southern Lebanon.' Why would anyone wish to argue with that? Why would anyone, in fact, not wish to rejoice in this most American Miss?"
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