You probably saw or heard about the telephone interview a right-wing talk show host named Hugh Hewitt did with Donald Trump in which Hewitt stumped Trump with some questions about Middle Eastern policy. The highlight was Trump's confusion of the Kurds with the Quds, an Iranian special forces military unit that carries out secret operations in the region. When all this popped up in the news, I was hard at work on the 2014 volume of Pebbles from the Philosopher's Stone. You may perhaps recall that just about a year ago I wrote several enthusiastic posts about a wonderful book I was reading by Irving Finkel called the Ark Before Noah. Before I had even finished the book, I posted a short comment about one particularly delightful passage that echoed in my mind as I read about Trump's discomfiture. Here is the relevant portion of that brief blog post.
There are countless wonderful passages I could quote at length, but that
would be de trop, as they say in these parts, so I will content myself
with this footnote to a passage in which Finkel is introducing the reader to
the ancient Sumerians of the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers
[hence Mesopotamia] whose capital city, Ur, was located in what is now Iraq. Finkel writes:
"During the last invasion of Iraq, a high-flown American official,
interviewed on the radio about damage to archeological sites on which military
installations had been imposed, referred to this city as 'Umm,' evidently
confusing one convention for 'I can't think what to say' with another."