August 24 marked the 200 year anniversary of one of the worst military defeats in America history: the burning of the White House at the hands of the British during the War of 1812. Though the anniversary of a relatively important historical event, many Americans were ultimately reminded of the event in a most bizarre way: by a joke by the British Embassy that was sent via Twitter, and the subsequent dust-up:
People were ticked about this tweet, with the collective reaction being something along the lines of “Too soon”:
Perhaps the best response came from Marie Harf:
Anyway, with an apparently unamused public watching, the British Embassy apologized for their tweet (though, to their credit, they left their initial tweet up):
Some, however, didn’t think the apology was necessary:
When I first saw this tweet yesterday, my first reaction was to crack up laughing. Social media, at least when used by government or diplomatic officials, has a bad tendency of being way too conservative and by the book. The British Embassy went for it here – they tried to break the mold and mark a momentous event in history by tweeting something funny.
That being said, I disagree with people who can’t understand the outrage. Yes, 200 years have passed, and yes, Britain is our closest ally, no doubt. But, in the War of 1812, an estimated 15,000 Americans died, and the British did sack one of our most notable American icons, the White House. The tweet was also, as the Washington Post accurately described, pretty “undiplomatic.” Humor does have a place on social media…even from governments and embassies…it just has to be used cautiously. The same certainly applies to elected officials
Do you think that this tweet was a good idea and that people are just taking it too seriously, or was it a touch too much? I’d love to hear your thoughts – let us know in the comments!