Place names can be charged with politics. Conquest sometimes leads to renaming, sometimes revolution, and sometimes just nationalism. The city which gave birth to Polish Solidarity was known as "Danzig" when the Germans ruled it, and is now called "Gdansk" by Poland. The Japanese and most of the world call the body of water between Japan and the mainland of Asia the "Sea of Japan". The South Koreans call it the "East Sea", and the North Korans call it the "East Sea of Korea". The city founded by Peter the Great was called "St. Petersburg", then "Leningrad", and now "St. Petersburg" again.
But the place name which generates the most email to American Thinker is the body of water between Iran and Saudi Arabia (and other emirates). It is called the "Persian Gulf" by most of the world, including the UN, but is called the "Arabian Gulf" by some Arab nationalists, going back to the day of Egypt's Nasser.
Quoting an outside source, the words "Arab Gulf" appeared in our pages yesterday, eliciting the following email, reprinted below to demonstrate the passions involved in this particular naming dispute:
Thomas Lifson's article titled "Things are getting tense in Iran" has a very basic and fundamental flaw.
This asshole is distorting 5000 years of history and all the geographical maps by calling "The Persian Gulf" as "Arab Gulf" in his article. He is probably fed by arab petro dollars up his ass to make this kind of statements or he is an outright stupid idiot who does not know the basics history.
A Very proud American-Iranian who believe the everlasting land of Iran will always have Persian Gulf.
The proud American-Iranian is not proud enough to give us his last name or location, calling himself "Nick." His email, however is firstname.lastname@example.org
, the only meaningful identification.
I wrote back to "Nick":
Usually I do not respond to people who call me nasty names. But your combination of stupidity and invective deserves correction.
If you bother to actually closely look at the item in question you will see that the term which so offends your sensibilities appears in a quote from another source, which is quoting the Kuwait News Agency .
Perhaps in your moral universe one should change the words of others to conform with your own terminology preferences. Totalitarian states usually do this. But honest journalists quote sources accurately.
You have accused me of serious corruption and applied a disagreeable name. All of this says a lot about you and nothing about me. Perhaps you are enough of a man to recognize that you have behaved in a highly unethical manner and committed a serious breach of civility. Perhaps not.
In any event, you do your cause no good.
Thomas Lifson, editor
[Sigh.] I expect that I will receive similar emails in the future. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but place names still elicit passion and even lower emotions.