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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Give me some of that old fashioned Western racism

The following appeared in the Beirut-daily Annahar on August 13, 2005:

Two days ago the Arab lawyers union issued a protest statement on the definition of the word 'Arab' in the 3rd and latest edition of the American Webster Dictionary, the synonyms of the word 'Arab' such as 'loiterer' and 'beggar', which the statement considered to be injurious and insulting to the Arabs.

The league is right, these synonyms exceed the limits of injury and insult, it exceeds the proper bounds and limits to red-letter racism by this dictionary, in the edition published last year. Arab Americans organized then a big campaign against Webster, because it added to the usual discretion of anti Semitism namely 'enmity to Jews as an ethnic and religious minority, accompanied by social, economic and political discrimination', two new meanings: Opposition to Zionism and sympathy with Israel's enemies.

It is possible that the racism of this description overshadowed the definition given to the word 'Arab', we were late to notice the negative synonyms mentioned in the union's statement.

This is "Webster".

What is worse is that Webster is not a special case. While searching for the word 'Arab' in another American dictionary, the 'Rogers New Millennium', which is available on line at the internet, and is being constantly updated, it includes a number of synonyms that show how much Webster is dragging behind in its racism.

I mean that it is in the number of synonyms and not in the negative stereotyped meanings. There is no problem in the change of meanings of the word for any researcher.

Here are some of the synonyms that Webster gives and 'Rogers' elaborates on in defining the word 'Arab':

'Loiterer, vagabond, beggar, corrupt, vagrant, parasite, pauper, outcast, wonderer, perverted, clumsy, indolent, mendicant, lazy, negligent, the bad boy, erratic, fugitive, roamer, squanderer, gambler, spendthrift, peddler, merchant, trafficker, bidder, speculator, cheater'

If you were an Arab in an American dictionary, chose what ever you want among these words in describing what you are, you will not go wrong. Don't be sad, for if you try to go out of the dictionary nowadays you will stumble with other synonyms, and in no time you will come across with new additions, but what is strange in the stereotype dealing with Arabs is that the word 'terrorist' was not added yet as a synonym for 'Arab' in racist dictionaries. What type of siege is this?


Blogger Andjam said...

Margo is contributing to a dictionary???

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 10:58:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Surely you can do better than that...
Oh no, wait...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 11:21:00 pm  
Blogger Andjam said...

Surely reporting on racist words isn't as bad as using racist words, but whom do you decide to criticise?

Thursday, August 18, 2005 12:03:00 am  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Western attitudes towards the Arab world, still based on delusions, racism and outright misconceptions...

Thursday, August 18, 2005 12:41:00 am  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

How many hours a day do you spend looking for cudgels to beat up whitey?

Thursday, August 18, 2005 9:02:00 am  

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