A Donald Trump-supporting beauty queen has been stripped of her title after being accused is posting racist comments on social media. Online conservatives have since rallied around her and accused the Miss Indiana and Michigan World America of anti-conservative bias.
Kathy Zhu, 20, is a University of Michigan student who earlier this week was named as an Indiana and Michigan 2019 national finalist in her bid to make it to the Miss and Teen World America Preliminary and Finals, which will be held in Las Vegas in October.
But after organizers became aware of Zhu's controversial social media posts, they removed her from the competition and asked her to stop posting anything relating to the contest, news.com.au reported.
Zhu—who was born in China and moved to the U.S. aged 5—posted her conversations with the organization on Twitter, sparking fury among online conservatives.
Zhu said on Twitter she had been stripped of her title "due to my refusal to try on a hijab in 2018, my tweet about black on black gun violence, and 'insensitive' statistical tweets."
Zhu, who has more than 70,000 followers on Twitter and Instagram combined under the handle "PoliticalKathy," first gained online fame for her Trump support during the 2016 presidential election.
She gained notoriety in 2018 after she complained on Twitter about a "Try a hijab" booth at her college. "So you're telling me that it's now just a fashion accessory and not a religious thing?" she wrote, according to The Orlando Sentinel. "Or are you just trying to get women used to being oppressed under Islam?"
Muslim students at the college then began a campaign to have Zhu expelled. One, who said she was manning the booth, replied, "I invited you to try one on and you said 'no thank you...You didn't take the time to even ask questions or try to understand what Hijab is. That's ignorant of you. You literally sprinted after taking the photos. That's pathetic."
The other problem was a tweet about black-on-black violence. "Did you know the majority of black deaths are caused by other blacks?" Zhu wrote on Twitter. "Fix problems within your own community first before blaming others."
Zhu shared emails and text messages between her and Miss World America Michigan state director Laurie DeJack, which showed that the organization was unhappy with her online conduct.
DeJack wrote, "It has been brought to the attention of Miss World America that your social media accounts contain offensive, insensitive and inappropriate content, and in violation of MWA's Rules and Conditions, specifically the contestant requirement of 'being of good character and whose background is not likely to bring into disrepute Miss World America or any person associated with the organisation'."
"Therefore, and effective immediately, MWA does not recognize you as a participant of any sort or in any capacity as it relates to any and all events of MWA," DeJack continued.
"Furthermore, let this communication serve as official notice to remove any mention of yourself as a participant in MWA from all social media platforms (including photographs of you wearing the MWA Michigan sash and/or crown, and any text claiming to be a participant of MWA events)."
Zhu stood by her tweet, replying to DeJack saying, "Statistics and facts are not always pleasant. It's disgusting how you would rather lie to the public's face than be supportive of someone that is trying to make a difference by talking about subjects that no one dares to say."
Zhu did not provide any actual statistics or facts to back up her assertion. When DeJack pointed this out, Zhu replied, "Maybe you should read an educational journal on the statistics of blacks killing blacks. I go to school for this. I'll save you the chance to lose this political debate."
When asked about the 2018 hijab incident, Zhu said that "a Muslim woman tried to forcibly put a hijab on my head without my permission." This contradicts her original description of the incident, in which she said she was asked if she would like to try one on but she "politely declined."
"What's 'insensitive' is that women in the Middle East are getting stoned to death for refusing to obey their husband's orders to wear hijabs," she wrote. "I tweeted about it on my social media...Almost everyone was supportive of me refusing to be put in that situation."
"Are the people in MWA implying that they advocate for the punishment of women who refuse to wear a hijab?" Zhu added. She did not provide any evidence to suggest the MWA was indeed in favor of punishing women for refusing to wear hijabs.
Right-wing Twitter users began sharing the story, citing it as evidence of anti-conservative bias and political correctness. BlazeTV host Lauren Chen said Zhu was stripped of her title "for highlighting crime rates in some black communities. The fact that these pageant people find her views offensive speaks more to their own bigotry than anything else."
Music video director Robby Starbuck incorrectly interpreted the incident as proof that "you can't even participate in a @MissWorldLtd pageant if you're *gasp* openly Republican." Conservative musician and activist Joy Villa also misread the situation, falsely claiming Zhu had been blocked from competing because the was a conservative.
MWA did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.