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You know, every time I see a news item about Arizona, I cringe a little, because I don't want to seem like I'm harping on how delightfully unhinged those leathery racists are, but this one is just too good: some Arizonans are up in arms about the media referring to their recent rash of dust storms as "haboobs," objecting to the term's Middle Eastern origins.
"I am insulted that local TV news crews are now calling this kind of storm a haboob," Don Yonts, a resident of Gilbert, Arizona, wrote to The Arizona Republic. "How do they think our soldiers feel coming back to Arizona and hearing some Middle Eastern term?"
I would imagine they feel bewildered that they went from one desolate, sun-baked, desert to another, but apparently not.
However, the real reason I picked up on this news item was this sublimely poetic letter from one Diane Robinson, also to the Republic.
"Excuse me, Mr. Weatherman! Who gave you the right to use the word 'haboob' in describing our recent dust storm? While you may think there are similarities, don't forget that in these parts our dust is mixed with the whoop of the Indian's dance, the progression of the cattle herd and warning of the rattlesnake as it lifts its head to strike."
Holy. Shit. First of all, dust is dust — the similarities are that it's dry, gritty, and flying around really fast. Secondly, people still use the phrase "in these parts?" I thought that died with Lee Van Cleef. And finally, what the hell do you know about the "whoop of the Indian's dance?" I wasn't aware "Robinson" was a Native American name. And please, don't get me started on the hypocrisy of defending your xenophobia by citing a vaguely stereotypical characteristic of another culture.
Arizona's two biggest exports: cheap tea and racism.