Saturday, July 23, 2011

Boobs Againsts Haboobs

There's some people in Phoenix, Arizona that are upset over the haboobs that have hit the city this month.
Some people in Arizona say we shouldn't call dust
storms like this "haboobs"

Haboobs are big dust storms and I can see why they're upsetting. Imagine vacuuming the house after one of those things.

But the dust is the least of the problem for some of these people, it turns out. They don't like people calling these dust storms haboobs. And the problem isn't because the word "haboob" prompts lots of snickers from middle school age boys.

No, haboob is an Arabic word and since, according to a few people, we're supposed to hate all things Middle Eastern, we should not use that word, according to an article in yesterday's New York Times. 

Not many people feel this way, of course, but I love the logic of them anyway.  There are a few Middle Eastern terrorists we need to get rid of, for sure. And many Middle Eastern countries aren't exactly oases of human rights and democratic, transparent governments. Apparently, saying "haboob" gives comfort and support to terrorists. To solve those problems, we should stop saying "haboob."


Yes, some Middle Eastern issues are problematic. One critic in the Times article wondered how a soldier would feel after coming home from Iraq and hearing the word "haboob."  We don't need to be reminded of those awful towel heads, the critic seems to be saying.

My guess is said soldier wouldn't really care about the origins of the word "haboob" He would probably say. "Great. Not another #&%*!*!! dust storm."

Linguists also note that expunging Arabic words from the language, if we wanted to be pure about it, would be inconvenient. We would no longer be allowed to say "algebra." Actually, I'm for that. I hate algebra. But we'd also be unable to say, for instance "zero," "pajamas" and "khaki."

Call those dust storms in Arizona just dust storms if you want. But if you call them "haboobs" I don't think that will worsen terrorism or political tensions in the Middle East, do you?  Maybe we should not concentrate on "haboobs" and instead keep plugging away at the messier job of  fighting terrorism and encouraging democracy in the Middle East.

1 comment:

  1. Society seems to have accepted changing the subject to any polarizing argument that can be somehow associated with the topic. I think the best label for this distraction technique is "creating a haboob" and the people who do it should be called "boobs." Except that I like boobs.