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Here She Comes—Miss Afghanifornia!
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November 28, 2003, 04:00 AM
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Years ago, in a different America, Groucho Marx  hosted a television game show called "You Bet Your Life."

Marx could always count on a laugh when he asked his unsuspecting guests: "Who is buried in Grant`s tomb?"

For the enjoyment of our readers, VDARE.Com offers a Marx-like query but with a "National Question" spin.

Q: Where does Miss Afghanistan live? 

You answered "Afghanistan"? W-R-O-N-G!

The correct answer—which should come no surprise to the enlightened VDARE.COM audience—is "California."

That`s right. Miss Afghanistan, Vida Samadzai, lives in Orange County. She is a 25-year old student at California State University, Fullerton.

If you still read the immigrant success stories that appear with boring regularity in your daily rag (remember, reporting on failure, criminal behavior and the like is not permitted in the mainstream media), you will already know that Samadzai is not only beautiful but brilliant etc.

And indeed, according to numerous news reports in the Los Angeles Times, CNN, BBC and Time, Samadzai does speak five languages and is a double major in international business and communications.

Regardless of how bright Samadzai may be, however, one thing is for certain: she knows how to milk the US immigration laws. That`s clear from her personal history, as detailed in the November 20 Los Angeles Times story by Kimi Yoshino headlined "The Bikini That Got the World Talking Equality."

The future Miss Afghanistan came to the US in 1996 to attend college. Presumably she had a nonimmigrant student visa. Yet seven years later and still a student (!) Samadzai is now an American citizen (!!) whose "siblings and parents now live in the United States."

The exact number of "siblings" is not reported. But the chances are that it is quite a few. In Afghanistan 30% of women have eight or more children.

What started out in the wacky world of immigration policy as a seemingly innocent student visa ended up with adjusted status, citizenship, chain migration and a significant portion of an Afghani village now residing in California.

Samadzai was apparently appointed Miss Afghanistan in order to participate in the Manila-based Miss Earth pageant. Afghanistan has no regional pageant, so former Ms. America and fellow Orange County resident Susan Jeske nominated Samadzai. The two women felt that the Miss Earth contest might be a good opportunity to bring attention to the plight of women in Afghanistan.

Miss Afghanistan didn`t even get to the semi-finals. But the judges were inspired to bestow a special honor to Samadzai—the "Beauty For A Cause" award.

One rule of the Miss Earth contest is that participants must wear a "bikini." As a native Californian who grew up on the beach, I believe "two piece bathing suit" is a more accurate description of Samadzai`s outfit. It looks like something my mother wore in 1950. But still, Samadzai`s showing her navel in public offended many Afghans here and abroad. And the worldwide Muslim community viewed her behavior as scandalous.

Samadzai made a half-hearted apology, reported in the LA Times story:

"If I offended some people, some women in Afghanistan, I apologize. I represent myself…Afghan women should be allowed to do anything they want. Their rights shouldn`t be suppressed. They should speak their mind. Be whatever they want to be."

And Samadzai pointed to numerous supportive letters, cards and e-mails:

"I get so much support from moms, even dads, girls saying thanks for opening the door for the rest of us."

One outcome of Samadzai`s experience is that she now finds herself "committed to representing the cause of liberated Afghan women."

How? Well, according to Samadzai, she is

"working on a film about the struggle to balance progressive Western culture with conservative Islamic values."

But nowhere in her interview did Samadzai indicate interest in actually, you know, returning to Afghanistan.

Similarly, Miss Afghanistan 1972, Zohra Daoud, now living in Malibu, also claims to want liberation for Afghani women. But, like Samadzai, Daoud seems unlikely to return.

Daoud told ABC News in a 2001  interview:

"I can`t tell you tomorrow I will go to Afghanistan, because I have a family and responsibilities here. But I would like to go back to help people, not to politically challenge them. Afghans have lived through the civil war and Taliban rule and I can`t impose what I have learned in the West on them. We need to ensure that peace, stability, economic growth and respect for women`s rights are delivered within the cultural values of Afghan society."

Two years later, she says "Since I left Afghanistan, I never returned. I have made plans to go back this summer for a few weeks. "

For a few weeks? Difficult as reforming Afghanistan may be, the truth is that Samadzai, Daoud and other talented, educated Afghanis who care about the future of their country can and should go home.

Important work awaits them.

Ed Burke, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization`s education consultant in Kabul told Saudi Aramco World Magazine reporter John Lawton for his November/December 2002 article "Rebuilding Afghanistan": [pdf file]

"The thirst for education and knowledge in post-Taliban Afghanistan is enormous."

Lawton wrote that university entrance examinations given in 2002 attracted 20,000 candidates. More than 16,000—many of them women—were admitted. Those graduates will help replace the 200,000 teachers and academics lost during the last quarter-century.

Samadzai and Daoud could be among those teachers.

Indeed, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has an appeal to all Afghanis living abroad posted right on the website of the Afghan Embassy in Washington D.C.:

"You are the ones who are trained. You are the academics. You are the ones who have professional training. Come back to your country and we will welcome you."

Karzai`s invitation includes Samadzai and Daoud.

If they are sincerely interested in rebuilding Afghanistan, they should heed his call.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.