Jewish World Review Jan. 3, 2001 / 19 Teves, 5762
Debra J. Saunders
Going from the Atlantic City
Boardwalk to Berkeley
THE MISS AMERICA ORGANIZATION might be saying
adios to Atlantic City after this year's pageant; its
board of directors has been looking at other cities.
I nominate Berkeley.
The Berkeley City Council's unsought advice --
most notably last year's council resolution suggesting
that Washington stop the bombing in Afghanistan 'as
soon as possible' -- no doubt would be welcome by
a group of young ladies who, in answer to a final
question by the judges, often profess to want
nothing more than 'world peace.'
Of course, limiting the pageant to young ladies is
likely to violate Berkeley's refined sense of diversity.
The City Council, of course, could pass a resolution
inviting the organization to broaden its standards 'as
much as possible.'
Start by changing the title. Miss America is so retro,
so Old World. It evokes an age when society
wrongly distinguished between married and
Make the pageant Ms. America. Or, to eliminate
any hint of jingoism, Ms. Amerika.
Resolution No. 2 might suggest that the board not
limit the pageant to young women, not when
transsexual persons might want to strut in a taffeta
Make that: The M. Amerika Pageant.
What's more, the bathing suit contest -- renamed
the 'lifestyle and fitness' competition for last year's
show -- is likely to offend the calorically challenged.
The City Council could pass a resolution warning
Amerika organization that any competition that
rewards slender figures constitutes discrimination
against fat people. (I say fat, because fat rights
advocates object to euphemisms.)
Think of the advantages Berkeley has to offer -- no
need for pricey hotel rooms in glitzy casinos. Let the
contestants sleep in People's Park.
Of course, in Berkeley, there would be no runway.
Instead, contestants could cross Berkeley streets,
waving City of Berkeley bright orange pedestrian-
crossing flags. Contestants win points if no cars or
bicycles run them over. There would be no penalty,
however, for contestants hit by an SUV with a
Sierra Club bumper sticker. After all, the driver
wants to help the environment.
In that potholes and sidewalks filled with
panhandlers make walking in high heels difficult, the
City Council could suggest that the M. Amerika
organization invite Birkenstock to become an event
The City Council also might be moved to pass a
resolution changing the prize. The organization likes
to call the pageant not a beauty contest but a
competition for educational scholarships. Berkeley
solons are aware that scholarships are a euphemism
The City Council could suggest that instead of
scholarships, the M. Amerika organization reward
winners with day-care benefits. Thus the event
could raise awareness about the plight of single
mothers, er, single parents.
Of course, when judges ask a question of finalists,
the question should be: Which entity she would
boycott? The next M. Amerika might answer
Burma, or investments in gun companies, or any
entity targeted by the city's Peace and Justice
Commission. (Yes, Berkeley really has a Peace and
That is, unless contestants support the boycott of
Berkeley for its stop- the-bombing resolution.
Boycotting Berkeley, city boosters will tell you, is
synonymous with stifling free
Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.
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