Sunday, July 21, 2013

Of swastikas and public relations

        Sometimes a great public relations firm will count on the laziness of the journalist.  The hope of organizations is that the lazy editor of a newspaper will print the press release verbatim without fact checking.  The country of Thailand thanks the lazy journalists of America for letting them get away with one...or more.
So when Chulalongkorn University, a prestigious Thai university, allowed students to include Hitler among superheroes painted on a wall, many around the world responded with shock.  When the university responded with an apology explaining that the students didn't really know who Hitler was, the matter was settled.  American and international journalists ran the apology.
What journalists did not follow up on is that the issue goes back to 2011, when an article noted that the swastika had become chic attire for Thailand's young.  What journalists did not mention was a fried chicken stand in Bangkok that uses a picture of Hitler with a bow tie on its window.  What journalists missed is pieces of a story were there among the t-shirts of swastikas and fried chicken parts.
I can tell you that not one Thai student I spoke with here in Bangkok knows what the swastika means or who Hitler is.  A separate comment on the state of education may well be needed here.  And perhaps might make a good story.  What you read here is not an indictment of Thailand or the excellent people I have met here.  It's an indictment and one more bit of evidence that some of our journalists are getting lazier. And public relations firms thank them for their support.

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