Apparently the web has gone into shoot first, ask questions later mode. And too damned bad for anyone who stands in the way.
So Obama names his transition team and in it is a South Asian – Sonal Shah. Her bio is impressive – Google.org, Goldman Sachs and the founder of a Peacorps-like organization, Indicorps, focused on India.
First – Euphoria.
Then, a scathing article about Shah’s politics – attacking her for being part of the despicable and detestable Hindu far right. But the article does not actually provide any fact-based backup for these claims. Instead it points to the associations of her parents. Guilt by association.
Shah is instantly condemned on blogs and in newsgroups – the very same blogs who would defend Obama against the Rev. Wright association (hmm…) Do any of these people fact check? No. It is left to Sonal’s acquaintances, friends, colleagues, and calmer, saner minds to defend her. A gentleman who started a volunteer organization in Pakistan based on Shah’s Indicorp stated categorically that “Sonal Shah has wanted nothing but the best for Pakistan and its Muslims”. Would that be her approach if she were a Hindu fanatic?
Sonal herself issues a statement denouncing the policies of the Hindu far right and disassociating herself with those policies.
What then? Do the people who jumped on the “oppose Shah” camp apologize? Do they even admit they might have over-reached? Oh no! That would be… too civilized. They offer no apology. They move on.
Could Sonal have been more careful about which groups she associated with her efforts to do real good? Sure and it is a very valid point. By the same token though, those who are ready to tear someone down should be more careful to check the facts.
In this day of instant opinions it is incredibly easy to cause irreparable harm. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?? There are two sides to every story – why not wait to figure out both before hanging someone up to dry?
In the instant and constant news cycle, it sometimes makes sense to wait a while before forming an opinion and publishing it for the world to see.