Jul 23 2011
Why did the media decide to replace the perfectly good word ‘dust storm’ with the Arab word, ‘haboob?’
NY TIMES – 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.
After living here for 57 years, I have seen an “Arizona dust storm” or two. What irritates me is the growing trend to call our Arizona dust storms “haboobs.” “While other countries in the world may call them that, this is the United States. Even more, this is Arizona, not some Middle Eastern nation.”
“How do they think our soldiers feel coming back to Arizona and hearing some Middle Eastern term?” Dust storms such as we have are as unique as cacti and diamondback rattlesnakes. Keep it as it is – an Arizona dust storm!
Diane Robinson of Wickenburg, Ariz., agreed, saying the state’s dust storms are unique and ought to be labeled as such. “Excuse me, Mr. Weatherman!” she said in a letter to the editor. “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.” We have our own culture, sir, and we don’t take kindly to being robbed of it.