for its prominent coverage of what may be one of the dumbest controversies of all time. (When I first read the news over my morning coffee, this article had one of the largest headlines on the paper of record’s main page.)
PHOENIX — 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?”
My main worry is that our soldiers will come back to Arizona and realize that they’re surrounded by total frigging morons.
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.”
Ms. Robinson went on to list other bits of hackneyed Americana swirling in the Arizona wind, including purple mountain’s majesty, a steaming slab of her mother’s apple pie, and George Washington’s wooden teeth.
Those poor local weathermen, naively thinking they could use a term that smacked of the foreign. If only they have chosen to call the storms “freedom winds” that kicked up a lot of “liberty dust,” none of this would have happened. Then the likes of Mr. Yonts and Ms. Robinson could have concerned themselves with more important national issues, like whether or not Michelle Obama had cheese on her burger.