What to say (and not to say) in the wake of tragedy
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What to say (and not to say) in the wake of tragedy

In this image made from video, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, center, hugs and consoles a woman as she visited Kilbirnie Mosque to lay flowers among tributes to Christchurch attack victims, in Wellington, Sunday, March 17, 2019. (TVNZ via AP)

“Thoughts and prayers” is basically a joke by now—especially when accompanied by nothing else. Generic statements are roundly criticized. Specific ones are picked apart. But still, when something devastating happens, politicians of all stripes, from all nations, feel the need to quickly say…something.

A leader offering support to their own citizens is part of the job. A leader from a country half a world away putting out a Tweet is…not that. So why do they bother? Who are these brief statements of sympathy intended for? And do they actually help the people impacted by the tragedy in question? If not, why make them? Is there a “good” way for a politician to tweet in the immediate aftermath of tragedies that can sometimes seem like daily occurrences?

GUEST: Fatima Syed, National Observer

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