Op-Ed

Miss America’s conflicting agendas

THERE SHE IS: Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri crowns Miss New York Kira Kazantsev as Miss America 2015.
THERE SHE IS: Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri crowns Miss New York Kira Kazantsev as Miss America 2015. AP

Growing up, the odds that I would have been picked to wear a sash as Miss Anything were slimmer than Rosie O’Donnell winning Miss (or Mr.) Congeniality.

Overweight, myopic and blessed with hair that in its natural state looked like one of those designs you used to draw on a Spirograph, I was hardly Bert Parks material. Thus, you would be justified in believing that anything negative I have to say about the reigning Miss America will likely come off as sour grapes, fermented and poured into a red plastic cup.

Those of you who caught her performance Sunday night were either horrified at the fact that a grown woman would be playing with Dixie Cups as proof of her qualifications to represent the country, or thrilled because it meant that you too could register your mediocre self for America’s Got Talent. That, or you just chalked it up to the effects of living in a city that roots for the Giants.

Kira Kazantsev is a Barbie-like blonde who, in both looks and bearing, is the polar opposite of her predecessor, Nina Davuluri, the first Indian-American Miss America, who also happens to hail from New York. It is as if Indira Gandhi just got replaced by Christie Brinkley on the pedestal, as if that brief experiment with diversity got consigned to the dust heap of history. Kira might have an exotic name, and she might even have exotic parents and a back story, but I can promise you that the little girls that look to her for inspiration are closer to Marcia Brady than Dora the Explorer.

Which isn’t a problem for me, because if you are looking to Miss America or any public figure as your role model and life coach, you can expect to be disappointed. As Charles Barkley noted, athletes and celebrities in general should not be considered as upstanding models of morality and good behavior. As much as we dislike what Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson are alleged to have done, that shouldn’t have any impact on our private lives.

Which, conveniently, brings me back to Kira. In a strange and lovely alignment of the planets, this Miss America has taken as her platform domestic violence. How coincidental, you might think, that the newly crowned beauty queen emerges fresh from the Jersey surf at just the moment that those brutes in the NFL are being exposed for their dastardly deeds.

How perfect that the new spokeswoman for all that is apple pie and lovely can use her bully pulpit to fight against the scourge of domestic violence, to speak for the voiceless, to try to condition society against the brutality that threatens the innocent and the defenseless.

Only, there’s a fly in this non-comedogenic ointment. Kira recently interned at Planned Parenthood. While the organization takes pains to point out that only a very small percentage of the services it provides are abortions, it is true that it is responsible for approximately one out of every four abortions performed in the United States.

So here’s my problem. It’s quite admirable that the new Miss America wants to bring a greater awareness of domestic violence during her tenure. It’s both timely and necessary, especially if she also points out that men are increasingly likely to be victims of physical brutality at the hands of women or, if they’re gay, other men.

What I can’t do is reconcile this so-called concern for innocent victims of violence with her deliberate “choice” to work for an organization that promotes the most inhumane violence of all, the destruction of unborn children.

Compared to that conundrum, the red Dixie Cup thing seems perfectly logical.

©2014 Philadelphia Daily News

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