The Michigan Mata Hari and Islamophobia

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Linear algebra
Linear algebra or a devious Islamic plot? Photo: Ewan Cross/flickr

When 23-year-old Rima Fakih donned the sash and crown of Miss USA 2010 this past weekend, little did she know that she was also pinning a target on her ethnicity.

The Lebanese-American became the second woman of Arab descent to win the title. But today’s political climate, when it comes to Islam and US Muslims, is an about face from when Julie Hayek took the top prize in 1983. As a matter of fact, Hayek’s win was so uneventful she’d been forgotten about when observers claimed Fakih was the first Arab-American to win.

US rightwingers are apparently shocked, shocked, that a woman who happens to be of Arab descent is such a red-blooded American girl that she had the goods to win Miss USA.

Obviously something is amiss. Either the judges gave in to political correctness or Miss Fakih must be hiding a grenade in her string bikini.

Ahmed Rehab gives a great rundown of the controversy in his post on The Chicago Tribune’s blog:

“AOL News, no less, led the foray with the provocative title, ‘Controversy Swirls Around Miss USA Winner.’ They quote right-wing blogger Debbie Schlussel who tells us that Miss USA has ‘many relatives’ ” who are terrorists and that ‘a Hezbollah supporter helped bankroll her pageant run.'”

If I didn’t know people who thought as above, the entire episode would be funny.

Meanwhile on Facebook:

Spiegel reports that around 200 Israeli soldiers friended and fell for a beautiful femme fatale on the site.

The daily says that a “Reut Zukerman” befriended hundreds of IDF soldiers and used her womanly ways to get sensitive information out of them, including secret codes and jargon. Her profile turned out to be fake.

Spiegel references an Israeli site that claims the woman was possibly a Hizbollah operative.

But, at least from what I got from the article, the Hizbollah link is pure speculation.

Our paranoia about Muslims and Islam is at a fever pitch and clouding our judgment, and common sense.

What’s next? Someone screaming that algebra (al-jibr) is a secret Islamic jihad code?

Ah. Maybe that’s why we Americans are so bad at math.

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