So, within 30 seconds of the crash of Asiana flight 214 at SFO, there was a photo of it posted on Twitter.
Almost as quickly, the mainstream media jumped on the theory that the crash occurred because of the Korean tradition of unwillingness to question authority. The theory posited that surely one of the co-pilots noticed that the flight was coming in too low and too slow, but they were reluctant to point this out to the pilot in command.
What they were struggling with was a cultural legacy, that Korean culture is hierarchical. You are obliged to be deferential toward your elders and superiors in a way that would be unimaginable in the U.S. But Boeing and Airbus design modern, complex airplanes to be flown by two equals. That works beautifully in low-power-distance cultures [like the U.S., where hierarchies aren't as relevant]. But in cultures that have high power distance, it’s very difficult.
But karma works in ironic ways. Earlier today, SF Bay Area TV station KTVU reported that they had learned the names of the pilots on that flight, and then – with a straight face – read the names out loud on the air. Watch it:
So now I’m waiting for all those mainstream media outlets to print stories about how this appalling on-air screwup happened because journalists in America are hierarchical and unwilling to question their superiors. After all, surely somebody noticed that these names are racist jokes, but they must have been reluctant to point this out to their bosses.
Am I the only person who noticed the irony of this situation?
Well, I guess I must be wrong. After all, the Supreme Court recently ruled that racism isn’t a factor in America any more.