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Press Release

ADL Deeply Troubled by Hateful Messages Labeling Newly Crowned Miss America ‘A Foreigner’

New York, NY, September 16, 2013 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said it was “deeply troubled” by a series of hateful messages on Twitter and other social media platforms in reaction to the crowning of Nina Davuluri, an American of Indian descent, as the new Miss America.

Since her crowning on Sunday night, Ms. Davuluri, 24, the previously crowned Miss New York, has been the subject of ridicule and derision in a series of vicious messages on social media suggesting that she was “a foreigner” and “an Arab terrorist” and linking her to 9/11.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and co-author of “Viral Hate: Containing Its Spread on the Internet” issued the following statement:

It is deeply troubling that the crowning of the first woman of Indian descent to win the Miss America pageant – an achievement to be celebrated – has been greeted with a series of racist and hate-filled messages on Twitter and other social media.  It is a sad reflection both on the medium of social media, where conversations about public events can quickly turn into bigoted and hateful speech, and the message, the pernicious notion that a person of minority descent is not entitled to full status as an American citizen.

We have been down this road before.  Who can forget how Bess Myerson was treated after becoming the first Jewish woman to win the Miss America pageant in 1945? Myerson faced open prejudice and bigotry as many sponsors and events associated with the pageant refused to recognize her title.  While times have changed since then -- and the pageant has become more inclusive and has embraced diversity -- the reaction in some quarters to the crowning of Ms. Davuluri is a reminder of how much work remains to be done in this country to ensure that America remains no place for hate.

We should all celebrate the crowning of an American of Indian descent as another step toward an America that embraces diversity.  Ms. Davuluri’s platform of “celebrating diversity through cultural competency” is a message that all Americans and people of good will should strive to emulate.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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AP Photo/Mel Evans

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