May 04, 2002
Calling Arabs Names

Gunner20's Blog Carnival has a contest to "Make up a new word to describe the Arab countries, collectively". Send in your entries: less than 24 hours to go, and the prize is well worth winning.

Will an old word count? I suggest that we go back to the traditional name for the western portions of the Arab world and extend it to the whole: Barbary. Not for the cute furry barbary apes of Gibraltar, but for a reminder of the Barbary Pirates, who ruled the Barbary Coast, and were defeated by the U.S. Navy in the Barbary Wars (1801-05). The name is a bit unfair to the Berbers, after whom the Barbary Coast is said to have been named. But the fact that it includes more than a hint of 'barbarian' is what makes it attractive. Once the Arab nations stop acting like barbarians, we can come up with a more complimentary name.

Another possible name change:
I have previously suggested that "if the Arab nations ever get their wish for another regional war or an 'Arab bomb'", the Empty Quarter "might easily become the 'Empty Half', or the 'Empty Three-Quarters', or worse". Why not go whole hog (with apologies for mentioning hogs in a Muslim context) and change the Empty Quarter to the Empty Whole? Or would that be Empty Hole?

I only mention that to set up for this:
The announcement a few months ago of Berkeley's new "holistic" admissions policy (meaning disguised racial quotas) reminded me of something I saw on a streetcorner in San Francisco around 1980. Someone had posted a flyer advertising some kind of "holistic" health-related program. Someone else had come along with a pen, and wherever the flyer said "holistic", "holist", or "holism" (about 20 different places), had very neatly inserted "(ass)" before the word. Ever since then I've been unable to take "holistic" and its cognates seriously. They are not etymologically related to "hole", but very often look as if they ought to be, never more so than when used to describe Berkeley's post-colorblind admissions.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at May 04, 2002 11:37 PM