Yes, that is correct - our new Miss USA Rima Fakih is Arab-American! A great day for Arab-Americans - at least it should be until a group of ultra right wing haters begin their concerted attack upon her.
Some have alleged that this is a plot by Arabs to take over the beauty pageants. Full disclosure: Arabs do control the annual Camel Beauty contest in Saudi Arabia so there could be some basis to this claim as we look to move from controlling camel pageants to controlling beauty pageants that feature animals with two legs.
But what is far more troubling are the attacks by some based on Rima's ethnicity and religion. It's despicable that some on the far right hate us more than they love the ideals of this country. (And I truly believe that.)
In all honesty, I shouldn't be surprised that even a great thing like an Arab-American Miss USA would pose problems for us - being Arab-American is much like many peoples' Facebook status: "It's Complicated."
Let me share with you an example of the emotional roller coaster of being Arab-American. Two weeks ago the Times Square bomb attempt occurred which caused us a whirlwind of emotions. First, when we heard there was a bomb scare, I can assure you that every Arab in NY was praying: "Please don't let him be Arab." (That is one of the biggest differences between minorities in the US and white people - when something bad happens white people think: "That's terrible - I hope everyone is okay." Minorities think: "Please don't let the bad guy be one of us.")
Then two days after the bomb scare we heard from the NYC Police Commissioner that the video footage of the suspect indicated he was a white guy - we rejoiced! In fact, I became a bit cocky - telling white friends: "You got to get your crap together! Trying to blow us up - what is wrong with you people?!" I even began advocating racial profiling of white people for all the bad things they have done: corporate scandals, the KKK, The Jonas Brothers, country music, Sarah Palin, etc.
But alas it turned out the Times Square bomber was Pakistani - not Arab - but close enough to make us reach for the Pepcid AC.
Now a week later comes a great uplifting event for our community with Rima winning Miss USA - but because she is Arab, some people truly don't like it. Why? Is it not possible for an Arab-American to beat out the other 49 contestants - does she lack the genetic make up to be worthy of such an accomplishment? Or can it be because a beautiful Arab woman scares the people on the far right because it humanizes Arabs and undermines the negative image of Arabs they want to perpetuate to further their political goals?
Well, regardless of their reasons, to the haters I say this: This is just the beginning. We have Miss USA - next maybe Captain America. Or how about an Arab vampire in the next "Twilight" movie (I can picture the "Team Mustafa" T-shirts) or maybe even an Arab James Bond who instead of saying "Bond...James Bond - he says "Abdullah...Abdullah, Abdullah."
To our new Miss USA Rima Fakih I say: Mabrouk. (Congratulations!) You make us proud!