x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Where in the world?

The ignorance shown by Twitter users over the ethnicity of the Boston bombing suspects was another example of jumping to conclusions.

Jumping to conclusion is a human instinct, but often this tendency can have unintended consequences. Remember how many Sikhs in the US were mistaken for being Muslims after the September 11 terrorist attacks? Many were attacked.

Usually, though, ignorance is not malevolent but rather the result of being geographically challenged. That was certainly the case last week after the identities and ethnicity of the two Boston bombing suspects were revealed.

After a large number of Twitter users erroneously declared that the suspects were Czechs, not Chechens, Prague's politicians jumped into action. The Czech Republic's ambassador to the United States, Petr Gandalovic, quickly clarified that it was a "most unfortunate misunderstanding", saying that the nations shared little more than a collection of letters.

But perhaps Ambassador Gandalovic should give Bostonians a break. After all, the real perpetrator of misinformation last week was the American media, which racked up so many errors in chronicling the Boston bombing that it was at times hard to discern fact from fiction.

If anyone jumped to conclusion last week, it was the press. And that was most unfortunate indeed.