The Prague Identity

My wife and I were in Prague, the Czech Republic last summer and had a wonderful time. But contrary to thousands of tweets and other social media contacts, we were not in the homeland of Suspect # 1 and Suspect # 2, the Tsarnaev brothers.

You see Americans have a profound inability to comprehend geography and can’t understand that there is a difference between the Czech Republic and Chechnya. Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic,while Grozny is the capital of Chechnya.

This may seem like a minor issue compared to the tragic and horrific events of the Boston Marathon day, but the ignorance of the American public with respect to geography prompted to Czech Ambassador to the United States to send out a press release telling the American public that his country is in Europe not the North Caucasus and that his country is an independent nation, while Chechnya is part of the Russian Federation and continues to struggle for independence.

This mistaken identity about the Czech Republic was only one of many errors in reporting or discussing the events of that terrible day and its aftermath. I guess it can be understood that in the fog of a terrorist attack people will make mistakes or misjudgments. But sometimes those mistakes and misjudgments cause harm, to innocent individuals, such as the Saudi national who was named as a “person of interest” and then released or in this case an entire nation branded as the home of the terrorists.

If there was a lighter side to this geography misstep it was the satirical Internet story that Sarah Palin was calling for an invasion of Prague to teach those Chechens a lesson about the power of the US and our commitment to combat terrorism. Sarah didn’t call for the invasion but she didn’t have to as the social media was filled with similar calls for invading Prague.

I would recommend you travel to Prague, it is a great city, and once more it is in Europe and not part of the Russian Federation and most importantly it is not the homeland of the Tsarnaev brothers.


One Response to The Prague Identity

  1. M. T. says:

    To reinforce your point,and to extend the premise of the ignorance of the America people, there was the misidentification of a troubled former student at Brown that intially misdirected attention to him as a possible terror suspect. The tragedy of his apparent suicide days before this horrible event only added to the tremendous pain endured by his family.

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