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#541#542#543#544 Episode #545 - Linguistic and Cultural Hierarchy
(Reel Bad Arabs and Translation in Wartime)



Sat 2 April 2011  Jack Shaheen, John Taylor Gatto, Vicente Rafael
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Download Hour1 Download Hour2Language is a technology that reflects our thinking on a deep level, yet most of us use it without a thought. Similarly, many people watch commercially produced movies without noting how they support an ideological agenda. First this week we adapt Jack Shaheen's film, Reel Bad Arabs on Hollywood's Anti-Arab bias. Next, a few words from John Taylor Gatto on how Henry Ford introduced the metaphor of USA as a 'melting pot' to introduce a complex lecture by Vicente Rafael entitled Translation in Wartime on the connection between translation and imperialism.
In our first hour we adapt for radio Jack Shaheen's film, Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, an insight into Hollywood's painstaking creation and commercial exploitation of a series of anti-Arab images. Lecherous, violent, incompetent, religious fanatics - he cites a range of the degrading stereotypes perpetuated by movies, all of which facilitated the launching of the war on terror. He concludes by noting that in the last decade or two, more realistic images are starting to emerge, and says that he is optimistic especially of younger film makers, that they will have the courage to challenge Hollywood's legacy of anti-Arab images.

We conclude our first hour by examining the history of the phrase "cultural melting pot". John Taylor Gatto cites its origin as the work of Henry Ford, whose efforts to promote Americanism were not limited to making English teaching compulsory for his workers. Another of his efforts was choreographing a performance which featured a large and prominently marked black 'melting pot' in which immigrants in national dress were transformed into flag waving uniformed American workers. Using the personal defense weapon (a hand-held weapon more dangerous than a sub-machine gun) as an example, we consider how a language embodies certain ideas, and how attractive they are to many in the 'under-developed world' once they have internalized the hierarchy which places US English and associated ideas at the top.

In our second hour, linguist Vicente Rafael speaks in 2008 on Translation in Wartime, on the relation between language and empire, scrutinizing political rhetoric to expose the underlying attitude of linguistic hierarchy. He reviews the history of the US as a polyglot nation, its creation of a unique and simplified form of English, and of the public perception of translation as a labor of rendering intelligible the same basic ideas as are found in US English. He concludes by reviewing the difficult position of translators in Iraq, helping the occupying power.
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