White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s false assertion about a 2011 massacre in Bowling Green, Ky., led to Internet ridicule — and another fundraising opportunity for supporters of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“I bet it’s brand-new information to people,” said Conway on an interview with MSNBC’s “Hardball” Thursday, “that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”
Most people don’t know about it because there was no Bowling Green massacre.
Conway tweeted out a correction stating that she meant to say, “’Bowling Green terrorists’ as reported here,” linking to a 2013 ABC News report about two Iraqi refugees who were arrested in 2011 in Bowling Green for plotting to send weapons and money back to Iraq. The two men admitted to attacking U.S. troops in Iraq but had not executed or plotted any attacks in the United States. The discovery of the two men led to a six-month pause in processing refugee applications, a new background check system for visa applications and a slowing of Special Immigrant Visas, but there was never a total ban on Iraqi travelers or refugees. Conway used the 2011 incident while justifying the White House’s ban on immigration from seven majority Muslim countries implemented last week.
But Conway’s correction just called attention to her original goof: She was trying to make a point about something that “didn’t get covered” — and linked to a report on a major network.
The Internet was merciless in response to Conway, who last month coined the term “alternative facts.” #BowlingGreenMassacre became the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter, and a solemn memorial site was set up to honor the victims of the nonexistent attack. If a user attempts to donate, they are redirected to the ACLU. A spokesman for the ACLU told Yahoo News that the group has no involvement in the site.
The city of Bowling Green acknowledged that no such attack had occurred:
— Bowling Green KY (@CityofBGKY) February 3, 2017
One common theme was tying the fictional massacre to abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who was spoken of in vague terms by both President Trump and press secretary Sean Spicer as the White House kicked off Black History Month.
Saddened and sickened by Frederick Douglass' silence surrounding the Bowling Green Massacre.
— Natasha Rothwell (@natasharothwell) February 3, 2017
Let's never forget the hero of the #BowlingGreenMassacre…
— Steve King (@steveking_) February 3, 2017
We wouldn't even know about the Bowling Green massacre if it weren't for the amazing job Frederick Douglass did.
— Matt Ford (@fordm) February 3, 2017
Chelsea Clinton took a shot:
Very grateful no one seriously hurt in the Louvre attack …or the (completely fake) Bowling Green Massacre. Please don't make up attacks.
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) February 3, 2017
College sports fans joined the fray, as Bowling Green, Ky., is home to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, who have played Bowling Green State University (located in Toledo, Ohio) previously and have a large, ridiculous looking mascot named Big Red.
— Jack Kimble (@RepJackKimble) February 3, 2017
— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) February 3, 2017
Another trope was tying Conway’s faux massacre to the “Mandela Effect,” a term for the collective misremembering of events. (It gets its name from some people claiming to have a false memory of former South African president Nelson Mandela dying in prison.) Another example of this is the belief that in the 1990s there was a movie named “Shazam” where the actor Sinbad played a genie, when no such film exists:
for those who want to learn more about the bowling green massacre i recommend Shazam, a documentary on the subject directed by Sinbad
— sean. (@SeanMcElwee) February 3, 2017
A lot of people don't know this, but Bowling Green Massacre was the name of the movie where Sinbad played a genie.
— Jensen Karp (@JensenClan88) February 3, 2017
And to top it off, a Bowling Green from across the Atlantic chimed in:
— Felicity Spector (@FelicitySpector) February 3, 2017
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