The New York Times Deserves All the 'Kyrzbekistan' Ridicule It Is Getting

The Times' gaffe is deplorable, but the reaction of the jokesters – to heap ridicule on the paper – could not have been more positive

The lands of the Kyrzbeks

This article originally appeared in The American Conservative


Leonid Bershidsky misses the point of the “Kyrzbekistan” jokes that appeared in response to an egregious error in The New York Times:

[Kazakh President] Nazarbayev was right about the “stan” stigma, though: It clearly exists if people keep confusing Central Asian nations, and other people (or sometimes the same people) keep laughing at their mistakes.

Bershidsky is right that the original New York Times error that confused Kyrgyzstan for a non-existent country is deplorable and unfortunately not unusual.

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But then the fact that several of these countries have the same ending isn’t what keeps people from other parts of the world from understanding the differences between them.

That comes from a lack of interest and/or laziness, and it isn’t going to be fixed by scolding people that make fun of the Westerners that mix them up.

Bershidky misses that most of the subsequent mockery of that error is intended to ridicule people that evidently don’t know much about this part of the world.

Being careless or ignorant enough not to know that there is no such place as “Kyrzbekistan” should be deeply embarrassing, and it deserves the sustained mockery it has received.

Indeed, most of the jokes that have been made in response to the original error have been aimed at embarrassing the people that don’t know their Kyrgyzstan from their Uzbekistan.

The error that confused two real countries and created a fake one isn’t funny, but it is good to make that error known and to draw attention to how laughable it is:

In case it needed to be said, the @kyrzbekistan joke is on people from outside the region that know nothing about it. It is not a joke at the expense of the nations of Central Asia.

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