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In which we pause for a delicate rant by our own Andy Cohen, Newsweek/Daily Beast copy editor. Since this tumblr’s wee years as an intern at Newsweek.com, when she sat next to Andy Cohen, she has been hearing occasional bursts of Gaddafi versus Kaddafi versus Qaddafi outrage from his cube. Finally, an outlet:
With the death of Muammar Gaddafi, there’s one group of forgotten victims that may finally find closure: news copy editors.
In the 42 years of his reign, getting the correct (or a reasonable) spelling of his name has been the bane of fact-checkers and usage gurus throughout the English-speaking world.
Newsweek and the Daily Beast use Muammar GADDAFI, as does Wikipedia, though we used to prefer KADDAFI, as SNL pointed out in 1981. The New York Times uses QADDAFI. The U.S. government goes with QADHAFI. ABC News once collected 112 possible variations.
Why no agreement? It’s a problem of transliteration—rendering non-Latin names and words into a romanized alphabet. It’s why Mao Tse-tung is now Mao Zedong and why Benjamin Netanyahu is sometimes Binyamin. But for Arabic speakers, there’s no question. The name of the top man is Tripoli was مُعَمَّر القَذَّافِي.
Gaddafi could have dictated how he wanted his name officially rendered in English, like, say, Egypt’s Mohamed ElBaradei (Newsweek would normally render the “El” as “al-”), but he never did. Though rumored to be fluent in English and Italian, he never used either in public.
However, this August evidence emerged that may finally put the issue to rest once and for all. The Atlantic reported that a passport belonging to the dictator’s son finally solved the surname mystery. Raiders at a Tripoli compound found the passport, which spells the last name GATHAFI.
At least now we know what to put on the headstone.
Related (and less funny) on The Daily Beast: The Web reacts
Warning: this is video of Muammar Gaddafi’s corpse being kicked through the streets of Sirte. No way to whitewash that. We’re posting it because many others have, and at this point, it’s a video asset in the history books.
Pictured is a man claiming to hold what was reportedly once Qaddafi’s golden gun. The Guardian points to this image, available via AFP and Getty Images, that’s described as “Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters carry a young man holding what they claim to be the gold-plated gun of ousted Libyan leader.” A BBC correspondent reported earlier that the man found Qaddafi hiding, and the leader said to him: “Don’t Shoot.” Read more.
The guy who got the hat suddenly feels shortchanged.
More photos and video of Libyan’s celebrating.
Reuters adds new information about Qaddafi, with no confirmation from the U.S. State Department about the news. “He was also hit in his head,” and National Transitional Council official told the news outlet. “There was a lot of firing against his group and he died.”
(Image: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images)
And then there’s this, a necessity in an age of media-driven rumors: the death shot.
From ‘After Gaddafi’ in Newsweek, Feb 27 2011:
There was, for all the usual showmanship, something touching about Gaddafi’s last visit to Italy a few months ago. Dressed in his singular combination of Arab cloak and Western-style white business suit, he had pinned a grainy black-and-white picture to his lapel—which Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi studiously avoided looking at. The picture was of a shackled Omar al-Mukhtar, a Cyrenaican tribal leader and Libya’s national hero, who was taken prisoner in 1931 after resisting the Italian colonial invasion for several years. He was hanged by the Italians before an assembly of Libyan prisoners—his cloak and glasses remain a central exhibit in Libya’s national museum on Green Square in Tripoli.
It was Gaddafi’s way of paying homage to a man he believed represents the ideal of a true Libyan: a tribal warrior, brave, uncompromising, willing to take on insurmountable odds. Gaddafi wanted to remind Berlusconi of the horrors of the Italian occupation—during which as much as half the population of Cyrenaica, Libya’s eastern province, may have died. It was no surprise that Gaddafi, in his first speech after the uprising against him spread across Libya, invoked these same qualities to explain that he would fight to the end and was willing to die as a (self-proclaimed) martyr.
Picture of the Day. Sirte, Libya. 10 October. “You guys go on shooting, I’m going to provide us with some musical accompaniment.”
Photo Credit: Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Via.
The AP’s Sergey Ponomarev captures the infamous “Fist Crushing a U.S. Fighter Plane Sculpture,” now covered in graffiti and rebels, from inside Gaddafi’s main compound in Bab Al-Aziziya.
Rebel fighters moved carefully into a building on Tripoli Street where government loyalist troops were believed to have been trapped.
This photo was sent earlier in the day from Getty Images photographer Chris Hondros, who died today after being struck by mortar fire in Misrata, Libya. via WSJ