Less is Better in Translation of #SOTU #mena #Arab

Less is Better in Translation of #SOTU

By Mehrunisa Qayyum, Founder of PITAPOLICY @Pitapolicy

In DC, watching the State of the Union at a Happy Hour or viewing party is an event–especially when we note who the cameraman focuses on while the president assesses the state of our nation.

Twitter is an addiction. I have started to think about talking points with hashtags placed before them. Merge this addiction with some great guacamole and chips with a cold Coca-Cola, and I will happily not keep my opinions to myself.

Yet, I have no catchphrases from the State of the Union regarding the Middle East & North Africa region after an uneventful viewing at the Arab American Institute. Counting the number of times certain phrases or words the President uses triggers more than just cute drinking games. President Obama did not expound upon Iran’s decision to continue to enrich uranium. This is a sharp contrast from the number of times “nuclear” popped up during President Bush’s State of the Union address days. Instead, triggers that usually regain my attention, were barely uttered once: Osama, Taliban, Iraq, Afghanistan x 4, #iran, Al Qaeda, Middle East, #Cairo, Sanaa, Tripoli, Gaddafi, North Africa, and Assad. These are key words that influence my daily occupation and crop up in my twitter factoids. Specifically, President Obama acknowledged the Arab Awakening and recognized those countries in a positive light (Yemen, Egypt, and Tunisia).

Obama’s SOTU was simple. However, noting what was not said, presents a theme. I was prepared to hear at least 10 minutes of consecutive commentary on the Arab Awakening or the Iranian threat to block oil. I can take the good with the bad. I was even prepared to hear a long tribute on the Iranian threat to block oil.

The good news: no such commentary emerged. No longer can certain fears preoccupy American hearts and minds. Perhaps Americans of Middle Eastern, Muslim, or South Asian descent are comforted by that. However, the central theme of the economy and how to rebuild before another election divides us, might just as easily dissipate this relief. Despite the more domestic focus, the @AAIUSA account received many replies and retweets. But I should not be surprised since AAIUSA advocates for domestic interests. Continued on Arab American Institute USA.

Note: The Arab American Institute is based in Washington, DC and founded by Dr. James Zogby. His latest book is called “Arab Voices


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