I like Foreign Policy
: I subscribe, read it online and in print, and listen to the FP podcast. My friend and former student Siobhan O'Grady works there. They have good writers and contributors.
They also have someone on the editorial team who has irritated me. One ends up with nonsensical headlines like the one on this article
when editorial staff are not as trained as they think they are.
(Image source: telegraph.co.uk)
"Wherefore art thou, Baghdadi?" In contemporary English, "Why are you, Baghdadi?" The comma separates the name from the rest of the question, putting it into the vocative. So the question is, "why are you?" and it is addressed to Baghdadi. Why are any of us? To be or not to be, and why? Deeply philosophical, if that is what was intended. But given that Kim Ghattas's article is about peacebuilding theatre in Lebanon inspired by Romeo and Juliet,
it doesn't seem that existential musings are what is going on.
Juliet's original question is "Wherefore art thou Romeo?" In other words, why do you, the hot youth with whom I am infatuated, have to be Romeo (of the enemy house), rather than some other youthful stud? The most common modern misreading of this is to forget that "wherefore" means "why" and so render the meaning as "Where are you, Romeo?" It's not her question: she knows where he is.
So is that is what is going on at FP
? Where are you, Baghdadi? Or do they mean the original thing: why are you Baghdadi? If the latter, it shouldn't have a comma in it. Neither actually fits the article very well. It's probably just that whoever wrote this doesn't know Romeo and Juliet
very well and so mauled the best known line from the play, rather than find something more apposite.
Does this matter when people are dying daily in Syria and struggling to make ends meet in a stressed Lebanon? Probably not. The content of the article is much more important than a botched headline. But it's friggin' irritating and professional writers should put in the effort not to pull crap like this.