Harold Witkov
June 8, 2009
Was the Cairo speech lost in translation?
By Harold Witkov

Now that much of the hoopla has passed regarding President Obama's Cairo television address to the Muslim world, the effectiveness of his oratory can probably be put into a better perspective. To many dreamers, it was no doubt moving and uplifting, but to realists, it was no groundbreaker.

Besides, television in the Muslim world is subject to the X-Factor. What is the X-factor? The X-Factor is Arab state-run television. These are the same people who created Farfur, the Hamas Mickey Mouse look-alike, jailed and martyred by the Israelis, and the Egyptian TV mini-series production "Horseman Without a Horse" (based on The Protocols of Zion).

Considering the track record of state-run television in the Arab world, just how sure can we be that Muslims really heard the speech, the whole speech, and nothing but the speech? What type of spin did the television announcers give both before and after the President's oration?

Now let's have some fun. Since most Muslims do not speak English, imagine Arab state-run television providing incorrect voice translation and closed captioning. Remember the 1966 Woody Allen movie, What's Up Tiger Lilly? Woody Allen took a Japanese action film, intact, and English dubbed a story plot about a secret egg salad recipe. Imagine Arab state-run television taking the speech of the century and turning it into some kind of farcical, What's Up Mr. President!

Remember the Jim Carrey movie, Ace Ventura When Nature Calls. In one particular scene, Jim Carrey attempts to negotiate peace with a warlike and aggressive African tribe, the Wachootoos. Without his knowledge, every time his interpreter, Ouda, would translate for Ace, Ouda would start (in Wachootoo) with "White devil say." When Ace realized what his translator was doing, he demanded an explanation, to which Ouda responded, "That's how they know you." Even when Ace was able to get Ouda to stop saying "White devil say," Ouda's interpreting was dangerously inaccurate. Imagine Arab TV doing likewise to the President's Cairo speech? It would go something like this:

President: Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's.

Arab TV: Israelis must acknowledge that Israel has no right to exist, only Palestine.

President: Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together.

Arab TV: Islam is central to the ability of peoples to live together.

President: The struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.

Arab TV: The struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life, and will never take place in Muslim nations around the world.

Let us be honest now. Whether or not they carried the President's Cairo speech exactly as it was, in the Muslim world, Arab state-run television and media are exactly that. Other than Israeli and Turkish Muslims, the Muslims of the Middle East suffer under the rule of dictators and kings, and lack credible elections and human rights.

Political speeches are just political speeches. They do not change the world. They are for show. Beyond the hoopla of the masses, secret deals are made behind the scenes that change the course of history. Better to inquire what went on in the back rooms of Cairo and Riyadh than to overanalyze the President's Cairo speech too much.

© Harold Witkov

 

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Harold Witkov

Harold Witkov is a freelance writer in the Chicago area, who previously worked in textbook publishing and sales for more than thirty years.

He began his freelance writing fifteen years ago, specializing in inspirational and humorous first-person narratives. Among others, he has written for Science of Mind, Unity Magazine, Reunions Magazine and The Jewish Voice and Opinion. Harold Witkov's articles are widespread on the Internet. He has written for Renew America, American Thinker, Right Wing News, Enter Stage Right, and Land of the Free, just to name a few.

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