Bowling Green laughs along at massacre that never happened

By BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press

A White House adviser’s commentary about a massacre in Kentucky that never happened sparked seemingly endless snickering online, with jabs like “never remember” and “I survived the Bowling Green massacre.”

Kellyanne Conway mentioned the fictional massacre in an MSNBC interview as the reason for a temporary travel ban for Iraqis in 2011, saying it also proved why the Trump administration’s ban — now on hold — was necessary.

It thrust this college town back into the national spotlight, nearly three years after a sinkhole that swallowed several classic Corvettes at a museum in Bowling Green garnered worldwide attention.

Even Big Red, the beloved, furry Western Kentucky University mascot, wasn’t immune: One social media post shows him sprawled on the ground with the inscription “Never forget.”

“The jokes are flying for sure,” said Guy Jordan, who teaches at Western Kentucky. “My sense of things is that we are today a city of people walking around looking at their phones and giggling softly to ourselves.”

Jordan quipped the only massacres in Bowling Green have been some of Western’s football victories.

For Bowling Green radio personality Jelisa Chatman, Conway’s remarks were like a gift from heaven as an on-the-air subject.

“You wake up in the morning and you think, ‘What am I going to talk about today?”” she said. “And God is like, ‘Here you go. You need something to talk about, how about this?”

At Home Cafe & Marketplace, the most popular pizza was “the Bowling Green Massacre” pie. The specialty pizza with blackened chicken, mac’ and cheese and jalapenos was on pace to set a one-day sales record at the Bowling Green restaurant, said owner Josh Poling.

“The minute I heard it last night, I was like, ‘Oh gosh, that’s too good of an opportunity to pass up,”” he said.

All proceeds from the specialty pizza’s sales will go to the Southern Poverty Law Center, he said.

Meanwhile, someone registered the domain name bowlinggreenmassacre.com, and people clicking on the site were automatically directed to the website of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Last week, a group of people gathered at a Bowling Green park where they lit candles in remembrance of massacre victims.

Conway initially cited the Bowling Green “massacre” as a reason why the Trump administration’s temporary ban on immigration from several Muslim-majority nations is necessary.

Bowling Green has long had a reputation as a welcoming place for refugees and the city is home to the International Center of Kentucky, a refugee resettlement agency.

In the past 10 years, more than 2,000 refugees resettled in Bowling Green from more than a dozen countries, including some Muslim-majority countries, said the agency’s executive director, Albert Mbanfu.