(Tea Party 247) – The Arabic department at the University of Minnesota is scrambling to try to justify the Nazi background behind an Arabic-English dictionary that has been a requirement for Arabic classes at the university for years.
Farrah Mina writes that U of M student Lauren Meyers first realized the dictionary was being used by the university when her professor, Katrien Vanpee, was forced to explain the Nazi background of the text on the first day of class.
Vanpee, the director of Arabic language instruction at the University, told her students she never thought she would have to talk about Nazis on the first day of class, Meyers said. She proceeded to inform her students about the background of a text that was on the course’s book list: the “Arabic-English Dictionary: The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic.” Vanpee told her class that this dictionary — the most widely used Arabic dictionary in the world — was published in 1952 by a member of the Nazi party.
HANS WEHR’S DICTIONARY PROJECT WAS FUNDED BY THE NAZI GOVERNMENT WITH HOPES OF PRODUCING AN ARABIC TRANSLATION OF ADOLPH HITLER’S “MEIN KAMPF.” IN ADDITION, HEDWIG KLEIN, A JEWISH CONTRIBUTOR TO THE DICTIONARY PROJECT, DIED IN A CONCENTRATION CAMP IN AUSCHWITZ BEFORE THE DICTIONARY WAS COMPLETED.
Though the book had previously been required at all language levels of Arabic at the University, Vanpee told her students she would not be requiring it in her classroom. The Arabic department is currently working on a policy that will apply to all Arabic classes to address the dictionary’s history.
Her disclaimer to her class about the dictionary came after second-year student Rodrigo Tojo Garcia found information online about Wehr’s background after having already purchased the dictionary some months ago.
“…I was amazed that it hadn’t come up, that no one had talked about it,” Tojo Garcia said. “You would think with something like that, especially in the modern political climate … that someone would’ve mentioned at some point that Hans Wehr did this — but they didn’t. And that was a shocking thing to know,” he said.
After Garcia alerted Meyers to Wehr’s background, she approached Vanpee with her concerns about the history of the dictionary. Meyers was happy Vanpee discussed the book’s history and offered it as optional, since she hadn’t expected much to become of her concerns, considering the book list was already made for the class.
“I don’t want to require a dictionary that is a product of Nazi Germany, even if you could technically argue that the Hans Wehr dictionary that’s being used here is not exactly the same as the original one,” Vanpee said, noting that the dictionary had been edited by an American academic. “…The fact that ‘Hans Wehr’ is still on the cover is, of course, still really problematic.”
“What I find most problematic about the dictionary’s name is the fact that all of us who are familiar with the dictionary, refer to it as “Hans Wehr.” (i.e. automatically crediting him and only him, and not his contributors),” Vanpee explained in an email.
Vanpee said that in spite of the troubling history of the dictionary, it is nonetheless the most useful dictionary for Arabic learners. What’s more, it is widely used in Arabic instruction across universities.
In addition to starting a dialogue with her students about the topic, Vanpee is also consulting and evaluating with Arabic instructors and faculty about listing the print dictionary as a suggested work rather than a required one.
Tojo Garcia, who bought the Hans Wehr dictionary about a year ago, said he was exploring purchasing a different dictionary. “I have the [Hans Wehr] dictionary, and it poses something of a problem because it’s not exactly completely ethical for me to resell it knowing exactly what that is,” Tojo Garcia said. “But at the same time, my use of this dictionary is also problematic, so at this point I am looking into alternatives.”
Second-year student Nibraas Khan, who is in her first Arabic class this semester, is using a free PDF version of the dictionary. She said if the book was optional for her class, there is no way she would buy it. “I personally just don’t feel comfortable ever buying anything that incorporates any sort of Nazi ideologies, symptoms et cetera,” Khan said.
To Meyers, the issue is reminiscent of University conversations about renaming several campus buildings. “I really do believe in the power of names,” Meyers said. “If we’re operating with a dictionary every day that was named after someone who learned this language as a tool to use the Middle East and Arabic-speaking countries for their heinous motives, that’s really disrespectful and really harmful.”
What a lot of liberals either ignore or totally miss is that the Nazis were quite fascinated with Islam, much like modern leftists who promote the religion for the sake of multiculturalism while totally ignoring the very anti-progressive nature of Islam.
However, these days, two Democrat congresswomen who shall remain nameless are reminding us of one very noteworthy ideological point that the Nazis and Islamists have in common: a hatred of Jews.
As Tablet explains in a book review of two histories of Hitler’s fascination with Islam:
Both Hitler and Himmler had a soft spot for Islam. Hitler several times fantasized that, if the Saracens had not been stopped at the Battle of Tours, Islam would have spread through the European continent—and that would have been a good thing, since “Jewish Christianity” wouldn’t have gone on to poison Europe. Christianity doted on weakness and suffering, while Islam extolled strength, Hitler believed. Himmler in a January 1944 speech called Islam “a practical and attractive religion for soldiers,” with its promise of paradise and beautiful women for brave martyrs after their death. “This is the kind of language a soldier understands,” Himmler gushed.
Surely, the Nazi leaders thought, Muslims would see that the Germans were their blood brothers: loyal, iron-willed, and most important, convinced that Jews were the evil that most plagued the world. “Do you recognize him, the fat, curly-haired Jew who deceives and rules the whole world and who steals the land of the Arabs?” demanded one of the Nazi pamphlets dropped over North Africa (a million copies of it were printed). “The Jew,” the pamphlet explained, was the evil King Dajjal from Islamic tradition, who in the world’s final days was supposed to lead 70,000 Jews from Isfahan in apocalyptic battle against Isa—often identified with Jesus, but according to the Reich Propaganda Ministry none other than Hitler himself. Germany produced reams of leaflets like this one, often quoting the Quran on the subject of Jewish treachery.
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