The conservative young women of America had better get into training now, says Tim Murphy at Mother Jones. Registration has opened for Miss Liberty America, a pageant that promises to give "America's elite feminine patriots" a chance to display their "patriotism, intelligence, talent, beauty," and precision rifle skills. When Murphy referred to the event as "the first-ever Tea Party beauty pageant," however, organizers took exception. Here's a concise guide:
What is Miss Liberty America?
A national pageant for young conservative women, scheduled to take place in Las Vegas on July 4, 2012. Conceived along the lines of a traditional beauty pageant, the contest will "promote liberty, the military, and the documents of our founding fathers."
How will the contestants be assessed?
Would-be queens will parade in a one-piece swimsuit (adhering to the "minimum standards of modesty") and an evening gown, demonstrate a talent, answer questions regarding the documents of America's founding fathers, and compete in marksmanship.
Sorry ... marksmanship?
Yes. "This will be the first pageant of its kind to introduce competency in the handling, safety and use of firearms, and CPR," say the organizers. "The contestants must be able to save a life as well as defend one." In addition to $10,000 cash and a college scholarship, the winner will receive a lifetime membership in the National Rifle Association.
Who is behind this?
The pageant is the brainchild of Alicia Hayes-Roberts, sister of prospective 2012 presidential candidate Rutherford B. Hayes, a military veteran whose proposed platform calls for withdrawal from the United Nations, a return to the gold standard, and the abolition of the IRS. He is also the pageant's chief financial officer.
Why can't I call it a Tea Party pageant?
Despite the pageant's embrace of Tea Party concerns like Second Amendment rights and the military, Hayes-Roberts told Mother Jones earlier this week that she doesn't want to be "associated" with fringe movements. "I'm trying to bring people together, not separate people," she said, noting the judging panel will be racially mixed. "And there are some organizations that do nothing but segregate people."
Can Miss Liberty America really bring people together?
Well, "for better or worse," that's what the Miss America pageant once did, says Libby Copeland at Slate's Double X. But the conservative-sounding mission of this pageant "only underscores what a culturally fragmented country we live in." Anyway, it's difficult to take seriously an event which offers "complete dental care" and "a full-length mink coat" as prizes.