|Tweets about #NeverRemember #BowlingGreenMassacre|
Those are two of the social media hashtags that erupted online and led to "vigils for a massacre that never happened" around the country after one of President Trump's top advisers, Kellyanne Conway, tried to justify a controversial executive order on immigration by saying the travel ban was necessary to stop events like a terrorist attack in Bowling Green, Kentucky that never, in fact, happened.
"I bet there was very little coverage, I bet it’s brand new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and they were the masterminds between the Bowling Green massacre," Conway told MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Thursday night. "Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered."
Well, she was right that it nobody covered it. But that was only because... it never happened.
And following her performance on the weekend following Trump's inauguration, when a dispute over the size of the crowd who attended the event in Washington, D.C. led to Conway's now infamous introduction of the phrase "Alternative Facts" (see #AlternativeFacts), her latest high-profile untruth was quick to spark a new frenzy—though in this case perhaps a more light-hearted one—within the nationwide protest movement that has sprung up in defiance and resistance to the Trump administration.
And so as spontaneous vigils popped up in cities nationwide, at least one "Bowling Green Massacre Victims Fund" was set up to help the many not killed or injured in the attack that was a total fabrication. "Join us in directly supporting the victims and families directly affected by the Bowling Green Massacre by donating to the Bowling Green Massacre Victims Fund," said the request for donations which directed people to the ACLU, one of the organizations leading the legal battle against Trump's executive order.
In the center of Bowling Green itself—where a large banner read "No Ban ... R.I.P. Truth"—people attending the vigil placed flowers and lit candles at a memorial to "facts" set up while also sharing their serious concerns about the underlying policies that led to Conway's comments. "We are all Bowling Green, never remember never forget," people at the vigil said, according to Global News.
And as the Bowling Green Daily News reports:
Among the community members having fun at Conway’s expense was Laura Chandler, who stood in line Friday at Home Cafe to order her own "Bowling Green Massacre Pizza." The pizza, which was a special, included garlic butter, mozzarella, mac and cheese, blackened chicken, jalapeños and Sriracha sauce.
"I think it is hilarious the way that people are reacting,” Chandler said after snapping a picture of the specials menu with her phone. "At least something funny is coming out of it."
Those mourning the death of facts also gathered at the "Bowling Green" subway stop in lower Manhattan on Friday night in solidarity with those in Kentucky. As this video posted by the New York Daily News shows:
"We’re commemorating the victims of Bowling Green," Chris Bauer, a New Yorker with a stifled smile, told the New York Daily News. "It never happened so they were never commemorated."
Meanwhile, even as many on social media proved how fun (and funny) it can be to mock the incompetence and ignorance of Trump's team members, historian Juan Cole on Friday warned that there is nothing ultimately funny about what the administration is now doing.
"This detachment from reality and extreme violence to the facts," wrote Cole, "will eventually come back around to bite America on the ass."