As anyone who has gleaned their beauty queen knowledge from Miss Congeniality will tell you, Miss America contestants are “smart, terrific people who are just trying to make a difference in the world”. And yet we still seem to expect contestants to play it safe when asked a politically-charged question live on stage.
So, when Miss Texas, Margana Wood, was asked about President Donald Trump choosing to remain silent after violence broke out at a white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, many perhaps uncharitably assumed that she would offer up a polite and non-committal answer (and mentally filed away the question, “They ask that in beauty contests?!” for another day).
How wrong we were.
The ‘Unite the Right’ rally on 12 August involved white supremacists waving Nazi flags and shouting Nazi-linked chants as they marched on the University of Virginia. Tragically, the events resulted in three deaths and 19 people injured when a car crashed into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters.
Trump later claimed that there was blame “on many sides” for the violence, and that there were “very fine people” among the neo-Nazis. “I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there is blame on both sides,” he reiterated during a later press conference.
“You had a group on one side that was bad and a group on the other side that was very violent.”
But, while Trump refrained from calling the Charlottesville attack an act of terrorism, contestant Wood absolutely did not. Instead, she decided to use her time on the Miss America stage to tell the world what she really feels about neo-Nazism and white supremacy.
And it was incredible.
Let’s recap that powerhouse statement, shall we?
“I think that the white supremacist issue, it was very obvious that it was a terrorist attack,” said Wood, “and I think that President Donald Trump should have made a statement earlier addressing the fact.
“Making sure all Americans feel safe in this country – that is the number one issue right now.”
Wood’s defiant and brutally honest response went down an absolute storm on Twitter.
Some were genuinely shocked that “a blonde Texan woman” didn’t defend Trump:
Dude me neither, which made it all the more delightful— shauna (@goldengateblond) September 11, 2017
Trump fans were expecting a blonde Texas woman to defend trump, and then damn.— Joe C. 🎉🍸 (@TheTellurian) September 11, 2017
I'm a Texas Democrat and I wasn't expecting that at all. I've never been more pleasantly surprised in my entire life.— remember Marsha P. Johnson (@christiannnn_13) September 11, 2017
Some thanked her for giving them hope in these undeniably dark times:
And others just cheered her the hell on:
While Wood didn’t walk away with the crown (Miss South Dakota, Cara Mund, was named the eventual winner), she has easily won the hearts of the internet.
And she wasn’t the only contestant to call out POTUS; Mund also slammed Trump for his denial of climate change.
She told The Washington Post: “There is evidence that climate change is existing and we need to be at that table.
“I wasn’t really afraid if my opinion wasn’t the opinion of my judges.
“Miss America needs to have an opinion and she needs to know what’s happening in the current climate.”
Images: Rex Features