OK, so the Eastern narrative on Arizona is that it is full of a bunch of wacked-out xenophobic conservatives. And sure, we have our share. But the NY Times delves into an issue that, living here, I had never even heard of
The massive dust storms that swept through central Arizona this month have stirred up not just clouds of sand but a debate over what to call them.
The blinding waves of brown particles, the most recent of which hit Phoenix on Monday, are caused by thunderstorms that emit gusts of wind, roiling the desert landscape. Use of the term “haboob,” which is what such storms have long been called in the Middle East, has rubbed some Arizona residents the wrong way.
“I am insulted that local TV news crews are now calling this kind of storm a haboob,” Don Yonts, a resident of Gilbert, Ariz., wrote to The Arizona Republic after a particularly fierce, mile-high dust storm swept through the state on July 5. “How do they think our soldiers feel coming back to Arizona and hearing some Middle Eastern term?”
Presumably Yonts also uses some numeric system other than arabic numerals for his math as well. Seriously, I could mine any community and find some wacko with some crazy idea. Good journalists are supposed to have some kind of filter on these things to determine if they really are some pressing regional issue. I live here and I have not heard one word about any such controversy. But it fits the NY Times caricature of AZ, so they ran with it.
In fact, I think "haboob" has caught on pretty fast because it is a fun sounding name and it is something that is unique to AZ vs. other states. After living on the Gulf Coast and in tornado alley and on the west coast, it is kind of nice to live in a place where the worst natural disaster you get is a dust tsunami that makes you have to go out and wash your car.