The Racist Right Is Peddling Inane Conspiracy Theories About Newly Crowned Miss USA Rima Fakih
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Conservative commentator Debbie Schlussel pulled out all the stops, using Fakih's Shia Lebanese background to brand her a terrorist "Miss Hezbollah" and dismissed the colorful business magnate Donald Trump, who is one of the sponsors of the event, as an Islamic "dhimmi."
"Mark my word. Hezbollah is laughing at us, tonight," Schlussel raged. And why? Obviously, because "one of its auxiliary members won the Miss USA title without having to do a thing to denounce them and their bloody murder of hundreds of Americans."
Schlussel does not provide details of Fakih's alleged Hezbollah connection, except to quote unnamed "intelligence sources" who apparently confirm that some of her family members are linked to it. But, given the fact that, in addition to its armed wing, Hezbollah is a large political party, social service provider and the de facto government of the predominantly Shia south, the vast majority of Lebanese Shia -- and even many Sunnis and Christians -- are inextricably tied with the party. In fact, this is even less meaningful than saying an Israeli has links with the IDF, as pretty much all Israelis, even pacifist peace activists, have family ties with the country's military.
Another problem Schlussel's conspiracy theory runs up against is the fact that Hezbollah, being a conservative Islamic organization, it is unlikely to be recruiting a scantily clad beauty queen as an agent provocateur. In a contorted effort to explain this, Schlussel falls back on an old neocon chestnut: "Muslims frequently go against Islam in this way for propaganda purposes. It's a form of taqiyyah, the Muslim concept of deceiving infidels."
But this reveals a complete and utter misunderstanding of the concept. Derived from the Arabic for "to guard against", taqiyya is a notion which allows Shia Muslims -- in periods of imminent danger and persecution -- to conceal their faith in order to avoid harm. That it should be a Shia concept is perhaps understandable, and this has little to do with "infidels," but is because of the persecution they have endured over the centuries from their Sunni co-religionists.
I very much doubt that, despite the venom of Schlussel and other conservatives, that Fakih feels threatened in the United States. She strikes me as a young woman who loves her adoptive and native homeland and wishes to act as a cultural bridge between the two.