Tuesday, February 17, 2004

INEPTITUDE AND INCOMPETENCE AT THE NYT: Today’s front-page story, written by Leslie Wayne, on the magical way Arab-Americans have raised money for Bush is noteworthy for two reasons. The first point is fairly obvious. How is it possible that Bush is receiving significantly more money from Arabs when his support among that group has been waning ever since September 11? Wayne’s article doesn’t make any conclusion but it’s pretty obvious that the war in Iraq is the issue that has convinced many Arabs
The second striking point of the article is the headline: “Arabs in U.S. Raising Money to Back Bush”. Wayne uses several examples of Arabs raising money. The first:

The fund-raisers are people like Mori Hosseini, the Iranian-born chief executive of ICI Homes, a home builder in Daytona Beach, Fla. Mr. Hosseini is a Ranger, gaining the top designation after raising $200,000 from his family and acquaintances.
And the second one:
Fred Pezeshkan counts himself among the Republican hard core. For the past 25 years, Mr. Pezeshkan has lived in Naples, Fla., where he is president of the Krate Construction Company. He is also a first-time Ranger, having raised $200,000 for Mr. Bush. In previous years, except for voting Republican, the Iranian-born Mr. Pezeshkan was not politically active.
Anything stand out? Maybe it’s the fact that both Mr. Hosseini and Mr. Pezeshkan are Iranians. Yet the headline is clear: “Arabs in U.S. Raising Money to Back Bush”. (In addition, the first name “Fred” makes clear that Mr. Pezeshkan is either a very integrated Iranian or isn’t a first generation-immigrant.) This is another case where all stereotypes (Middle-Eastern-origin, Muslim religion, Arabic language) are represented by one term: Arabs. Iranians are not Arabs, they are Persians. They don’t speak Arabic, they speak Farsi. It would be akin to calling Turks European, when they’re clearly.. Turkish.

The Times surely isn't the only first and last to commit this sin, but for it's own sake I hope Mr. Okrent reads my e-mail.

UPDATE: Jack Shafer beats me by 3 hours.


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