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Miss Rabinowitz Bows Out

But our Nebraskan correspondent still has something to celebrate

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Loren Galler Rabinowitz, who went down to defeat.(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Well, despite our best efforts, Loren Galler Rabinowitz, a.k.a. Miss Massachusetts, a.k.a. the first Jewish Miss America finalist since Bess Myerson won the crown in 1945, didn’t get very far in the pageant Saturday night. She was unceremoniously cut, along with 35 other hopefuls, after an opening segment in which each contestant appeared at the microphone to introduce herself with a deliciously inane factoid about her home state (my favorites: Miss Rhode Island’s perky boast about her state having the “most Dunkin’ Donuts per capita in the country” and Miss Iowa’s gloriously irony-free exultation, following a tidbit about ethanol production, “My state gives you gas!”) .

With Rabinowitz out of the running, I was able to watch the rest through my usual jaundiced view, and thank God. Fifteen semi-finalists were selected to participate in the swimwear competition; these were culled to twelve before the talent portion of the evening. None of the talents showcased the solving of theorums or the composition of essays or the display of actual competence in the fields of dance or vocal performance (although the ventriloquist act was pretty good). Eventually, Miss Nebraska, Teresa Scanlan, was named the winner. She is the first woman representing my home state ever to be crowned Miss America.

For her talent, she played “Chopsticks” on the piano.

At 17, Scanlan is the youngest Miss America since 1937, and far be it from me to criticize a girl not yet old enough to vote Let’s just say that despite being landsmen, we don’t have very much in common: Scanlan is a home-schooled Christian who plans to attend Patrick Henry College, an institution made famous in Hanna Rosin’s New Yorker article (and then book) as a “Christian Ivy league feeder program for the Bush Administration,” as well as for its refusal, in 2007, to allow Soulforce, a group of LGBT Christians, on campus, even shutting down operations for the day rather than permit them to appear. At the pageant, Scanlan spoke of her ambition to one day become a Supreme Court justice, although the garbled syntax of her Cheney-esque response to a question about WikiLeaks sounded less like Sandra Day O’Connor (First Amendment, anyone?) and more like another former beauty pageant contestant, who currently has her hands full righteously defending herself against charges that she murders Christian babies and uses their blood to season her moose chili.

But anyway, good for Teresa Scanlan, I guess. I look forward to seeing her on Fox News in ten years. And Loren Rabinowitz can go to medical school with a great story of this crazy thing she did one time; and the rest of us can go back to not caring about the Miss America pageant, because it’s an inherently sexist, anti-intellectual institution where they have to approve of how your bottom looks in a bikini before they let you show your “talent.”

So it’s a lot like real life.

Related: There She Is [Tablet Magazine]

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Whooaaaaa. Hold on there Rachel. Not sure where all this hostility came from since your earlier article was certainly fair and balanced. I was actually at the pageant and watched what you saw on TV in addition to what you didn’t see both at press events and in person and your depiction is inaccurate and unfair. Firstly, Ms. Scanlan did not play Chopsticks. She played an extremely detailed and difficult piece in which Chopsticks was interpretively mixed in for both humor and homage to her start. There is no doubt that the piece she played was far more intricate then what they average pianist could perform let alone a 17 year old on national television. Secondly, the entire press room filled with both network and fluff journalists were blown away by this young woman’s grace, poise, intellect and eloquence. And during my own conversations with her she is clearly an extraordinary woman. The fact that you felt compelled to bash her after one of our own lost in her wake is school-yard tactics at best. And while pageantry as a whole has certainly earned some criticism, Teresa Scanlan has yet to do the same. You might also be interested in learning that the Miss America organization, a not-for-profit was established to provide college scholarships to women and still distributes millions of dollars for just that cause across the country. The pageant itself is just the marketing tradition that has lingered behind the organization.

Rachel says:

I didn’t bash Teresa Scanlan. While I’m certain there are many things I disagree with her on, I acknowledged that she is 17, and this is an extraordinary accomplishment at any age. I wish her well, as a fellow Nebraskan I’m proud of her, and I’m sure she’ll be an excellent representative of Miss America.

Re: her Chopsticks piece, yes, I agree it was hard. However, she didn’t play it well. I counted many missed notes.

Also, I’m talking about the pageant, not the Miss America organization per se. You can’t deny there is something a little distasteful about having to pass a swimsuit test before you are allowed to display any of your vaunted “inner beauty.” That’s all.

Rachel says:

So to some up, I guess if you want know where the hostility came from, it was from seeing the pageant itself. I found it remarkably callous toward the young women it purports to value. That’s not to say that show business, which the Miss America pageant undoubtedly is, is unique in this respect: ask any model or actress who had been to a cattle call. The difference, however, is that the cattle call doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is.

Verificationist says:

“None of the talents showcased the solving of theorums” — indeed! Quite meta. Though there is the tantalizing possibility the author was referring to a new Miss America challenge whereby the contestants try to solve theorems while plastered on rum. Now that’s a show I would watch.

Rachel says:

Excuse me, that should have been “sum up.” It was a long day.

JCarpenter says:

There’s no accounting for the taste of the American public.

Personally i would view the entire pageant as the beginning of life and that the ass of Ms. Scanlan will gain her entry into the highest government offices.

I’ve said that least 2137579 times. The problem this like that is they are just too compilcated for the average bird, if you know what I mean

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Miss Rabinowitz Bows Out

But our Nebraskan correspondent still has something to celebrate

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