Manufacturing News to Fit the Narrative

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.

  • Reformed Republican

    It has the word "boob" in it. What's not to like?

  • David, chandler, AZ

    Actually there was some discussion of this by KPHO on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/KPHOCBS5NEWS/posts/257085400983538

  • http://www.isaharr.com Isaac

    Just a quick thing apropos of nothing at all.. We don't actually use Arabic numbers, they look like this (٠١٢٣٤٥٦٧٨٩) that's zero through nine left to right. We do use the system of using zero as a place holder etc. and that is generally ascribed to the Arabs from way back. I was surprised when I started to learn Arabic that I had to learn new numbers too!

  • Cloudesley Shovell

    Presumably after the haboob hubbub dies down, Mr. Don Yonts will go back to complaining about all the names of states, rivers, lakes, and other things taken from various Indian languages.

  • http://counterrevolutionaryact.blogspot.com Chris K.

    I don't dislike the word because of it's origins. I dislike the word because in 20 years of living here I've never heard it before and it's kinda been thrust upon us.

  • http://hertzlinger.blogspot.com Joseph Hertzlinger

    I heard that in high schools all over this country, students are taught algebra!

  • http://space4commerce.blogspot.com/ Brian Dunbar

    “How do they think our soldiers feel coming back to Arizona and hearing some Middle Eastern term?”

    The same way they feel about the rest of the local slang that soldiers have always brought back with them from war?

    Xenophobia is no substitute for brains.

  • perlhaqr

    Enh, first haboob I ever saw was in Texas. So fie on your supposed AZ uniqueness! ;)

  • Rick C

    Was there a problem with calling them "dust storms," or something?

  • http://classicjapanesesongs.blogspot.com Brandon Berg

    We do use the system of using zero as a place holder etc. and that is generally ascribed to the Arabs from way back.

    They actually originated in India. They're called Arabic numerals because they came to Europe through the Moorish conquest.

  • marco73

    Americans have always brought back words and phrases from around the world. One of my favorites is "deep kimchi". Anyone with even a smattering of military knowledge knows where that comes from. So of course I'll bet the New York Times staff has no clue what that means.

  • T J Sawyer

    I think you should try to have it called the "khamasin." This is the Egyptian version and would have much wider recognition around the middle east than the Sudanese "haboob."

    Just say to the reporter, "Hey boob, its a khamasin!"

    As a bonus, khamasin also means "fifty." This gives something to the mathematicians commenting above too.

    If you made it this far, Google khamasin haboob (no quotes) for further info.

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    >> “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...

    Ummm. Has anyone actually checked the records to see if this isn't some astroturfing BS by the admin or the Dems to make AZ look stupid? Anyone done a search on this complaint to see if it was posted in various places by "different" people?

    It smells an awful lot like something they'd create to embarrass their opposition with.

  • rox_publius

    " 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."

    what about heat stroke? or *ahem* scorpions in the shower?

  • Another guy named Dan

    So this Yankee Doodle went all gung-ho and got his knickers in a twist because some honcho at the weather office decided to call a dust storm a haboob? He should just di-di mau off to the high country and find a GI Joe to parley vous with about sodiers adopting foreign slang before he drops himself any deeper in the kimchee.

  • http://hertzlinger.blogspot.com Joseph Hertzlinger

    The propensity of English speakers to adopt words and phrases from other languages has made English the lingua franca of the planet.

  • Che is dead

    OK, so the Eastern narrative on Arizona is that it is full of a bunch of wacked-out xenophobic conservatives.

    A narrative that you have helped to create.

  • Jim

    I work in Temecula, CA. There is a residential street there named "Wgasa" The tale on how this name was derived is that a person in authority in the city decided upon Wgasa as "who gives a s*** anyway."
    Yeah, I know, probably what you think of this post, also.