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Miss Rabinowitz Bows Out

But our Nebraskan correspondent still has something to celebrate

Rachel Shukert
January 18, 2011
Loren Galler Rabinowitz, who went down to defeat.(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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]

Rachel Shukert is the author of the memoirs Have You No Shame? and Everything Is Going To Be Great,and the novel Starstruck. She is the creator of the Netflix show The Baby-Sitters Club, and a writer on such series as GLOW and Supergirl. Her Twitter feed is @rachelshukert.