Predictably, the internet didn’t let this lapse pass quietly—angry criticism and sarcastic parodying, featuring the who’s-who of global terror and villainy, from Osama bin Laden to Bollywood’s own Mogambo, flooded social media.
How global audiences would react to the news of Daesh, or ISIS, chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi blowing himself and three of his children up inside a tunnel—he was being pursued by elite American troops and found escape impossible—is indeed a hard thing to predict. Expect jubilation from some, indifference from some others, and sorrow from his Daesh followers and, possibly, those terror groups who saw Daesh as a fellow traveller. That said, while writing chiefly for the American audience—given how the US has suffered from terrorism, and projects itself as actively waging a war against terror even though many countries would like to contest that claim—it is hard to see why a leading American newspaper would label al-Baghdadi “an austere religious scholar”, especially to ‘correct’ the rather apt descriptor of “terrorist-in-chief”. But The Washington Post did just that.
Just how rightly reviled the ISIS is in the West—apart from, of course, the war on terror—is evident from a bit of comedy gold that became viral when a woman internet-user wrote that by the time she is done with ISIS, it would have become “WasWas”. Jokes apart, it is appalling that a mainline newspaper should have gone so wrong, and in a headline, at that. Predictably, the internet didn’t let this lapse pass quietly—angry criticism and sarcastic parodying, featuring the who’s-who of global terror and villainy, from Osama bin Laden to Bollywood’s own Mogambo, flooded social media. While it is true that Post eventually corrected its headline, and even issued a statement, such lapses in sensitivity only fuel attacks on mainline media. In a “post-truth” world, this can be “bigly” bad, especially if you have a leader whose favourite pastime is slandering the media even for fair criticism.