Miss America backlash strikes a nerve in Tucson
By Maggie Vespa. CREATED Sep 16, 2013
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - 'A terrorist', 'an impostor', and 'un-American'.
They are harsh words and insulting phrases, used to describe our new Miss America.
They say it's lonely at the top, and they're not kidding.
Sunday night's Miss America pageant marks an historic first, and not everyone came out smelling like roses.
She's beauty queen trapped in an ugly battle.
"The girl next door is evolving as the diversity in America evolves," said New York native Nina Davuluri.
From the moment she donned the bedazzled crown, the first indian american to do so, the backlash came pouring in.
Twitter and Facebook were flooded with attacks like, "Congratulations Al-Qaeda. Our Miss America is one of you," and "Miss Kansas lost because she actually represented American values."
"I was just shocked by it. I was like does it really matter at all?" said Nitesh Patel, a sophomore at the U of A.
The comments hit home on campus.
"First of all she's not an Arab. That's just assuming that she's an Arab, and that kind of bothered me," he said. "And then I was just like it's just people being ignorant."
"Whether she's of Indian descent or she's white, that's immaterial. She's still an american," said a second Indian American student.
Also hitting home in Tucson, is backlash to the backlash.
Knight-in-shining-armor-esque tweets coming to Davaluri's defense, calling for Americans to 'just be happy' for her, adding "...America is about diversity. Not intolerance."
"So very proud?" asked 9OYS reporter Maggie Vespa.
"Yes, very big proud," said Raksha Bhatti, co-owner of Tucson's India Oven.
She says the negativity is tough to take.
"When people leave my country, they don't have good opportunities to do make up, have money, anything like that," said Bhatti.
But she adds the encouragement and the crown trump all.
"Maybe they're not happy, but I'm happy for her," she said.
"Think they're just jealous?" asked Vespa.
"Maybe," she said laughing.
Davuluri hasn't said much about this 'attention', except to say she's brushing it off.
We also talked to directors at the U of A's center for Middle Eastern Studies.
They weren't available to meet on camera but did say they have curriculum dedicated to correcting many of the incorrect stereotypes mentioned in these tweets.