A community project hosted at Northeastern University

"Political Responses (In 140 Characters or Less)"


This content was created by a student in Victoria Papa's Advanced Writing for the Social Sciences course at Northeastern University in Fall 2013. The students in the course each created two exhibits, the first directed toward a public audience and the second directed toward researchers in their various academic fields (economics, international affairs, political science, etc.). The students publicly presented their exhibits on December 5th at Forum Restaurant, which was heavily damaged by the second bomb during the Boston Marathon.

Text from digital exhibit titled "Political Responses (In 140 Characters or Less)" by Rebecca Ruehlman.

In today's world, Twitter is a place where anyone, including celebrities, musicans and political figures can share their responses to major events happening around the world. After the attacks at the Boston Marathon, Twitter was filled with tweets using the hashtags #Boston, #prayforboston and #bostonstrong. This exhibit focuses on what world leaders were tweeting about in response to the attacks. Along with the tweets themselves, the exhibit provides context for the tweet, adding more to the story than can be told in 140 characters.


UK Prime Minister

PM: "The scenes from Boston are shocking and horrific - my thoughts are with all those who have been affected."
5:41 PM - Apr 15, 2013
86 86 Replies 583 583 Retweets 117 117 likes
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The US and UK have a long history of friendship, which is demonstrated in many ways. This includes Marathon runners. 374 runners from the United Kingdom entered the 2013 Boston Marathon and 367 runners from the United States ran in the 2013 London Marathon.

The 2013 London Marathon took place 6 days after the Boston Marathon. Before the race began, there was a moment of silence at the starting line for the victims and those affected by the events in Boston. The race also raised money for the One Fund that day.

The Prime Minster, David Cameron, was so moved by the events that he took the time to visit the site and temporary memorial that was created at the finish line.

The tragedy of the Boston Marathon attacks brought the US and UK together.


Enrique Peña Nieto

Mis condolencias a los familiares de las víctimas y al pueblo de EEUU, tras los lamentables hechos ocurridos en Boston.
5:03 PM - Apr 15, 2013
245 245 Replies 970 970 Retweets 173 173 likes
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My condolences to the families of the victims and to the people of America, after the unfortunate events that occurred in Boston.

Nieto posted this message in Spanish, rather than English like the other leaders.

America and Mexico have had a strained political relationship because of immigration issues and drug trafficking, but the cultural relationship between them is quite different. 10.9% of the U.S. population is Mexican American and an even greater number speak some degree of Spanish.

Nieto posted his tweet in Spanish, rather than English like the other leaders. He directly addresses the American people, but he is also expressing his condolences directly to Spanish-speakers, like Mexicans at home, the 233 Mexican runners and the large Mexican population in the America.


Jens Stoltenberg

We are all shocked by the terrible events in #Boston. My thoughts are with the families of the victims and all those who have been affected.
3:15 AM - Apr 16, 2013
7 7 Replies 163 163 Retweets 80 80 likes
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Jens Stoltenberg has a personal history with terrorism. In July 2011, a car bomb exploded in front of his office, killing 8 people. Following the governmental bombing, the perpetrator went on a shooting spree at a summer camp for youth.

As Prime Minster, he gave a speech at a memorial to the victims:

“I'm proud to live in a country that has managed to stand together in the face of tragedy. I am impressed over how much dignity, care and strength we have. We're a little country but a proud people. We are shaken but we will not give up our values. Our response is more freedom, more democracy but not naivety.”

After going through a similar highly public attack on his country, Stoltenberg sent his condolences to those in Boston.


Vladimir Putin
Condolences to US President on the terrorist attack in Bostonhttp://eng.kremlin.ru/news/5277
6:31 AM - Apr 16, 2013
Condolences to US President on the terrorist attack in Boston
Vladimir Putin sent a message of condolences to US President Barack Obama following the terrorist attack in Boston.
6 6 Replies 19 19 Retweets 11 11 likes
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The longer statement from Putin reads:

Vladimir Putin strongly condemned this barbaric crime and expressed his belief that the fight against terrorism requires the coordination of the global community’s efforts. The President of Russia stressed that the Russian Federation will be ready, if necessary, to assist in the US authorities’ investigation.

In the extended message, Putin stresses collaboration between the two countries. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States and Russia have been working together on many issues, rather than fighting against each other. This diplomatic collaboration has been successful in Syria, dealing with their use of chemical weapons. The countries are working against radical Islamic ideology and see themselves as allies against terrorism.

With only 24 runners from the country, Russia was not very personally connected to the bombings, but Putin was still very clear that he was against the “barbaric crime” and he was on the same side as America in this fight.


Stephen Harper

Shocked to hear the news from Boston. Thoughts are with those who are affected.
3:07 PM - Apr 15, 2013
26 26 Replies 429 429 Retweets 81 81 likes
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July 2, 2013, Canadian intelligence arrested two people that had created three pressure cooker bombs, similar to the bombs used in Boston. They were planning to target a governmental building on Canada Day. Those behind the terror plot were “inspired” by the reactions in Boston.

Over 300,000 people cross the Canadian-American border every day, bringing ideas and emotions with them. The 2013 Boston Marathon attracted 2,083 Canadian runners to the city, which was the largest representation from a foreign country. These runners were affected first hand, which impacted the views of the Canadian public, Stephen Harper and sadly, terrorists living in Canada.

Canada remains America’s number one defense ally, with numerous treaties around international security. Working with our neighbors to fight against terrorism is helping to stop terrorism domestically and internationally.


Prime Minister condemns Boston bombings. Expresses his solidarity with the American people in the struggle against terrorism.

— Dr Manmohan Singh (@PMOIndia) April 16, 2013
Two days after the Boston Marathon, there was a terrorist attack in Bangalore, India. A bomb went off at the Bharatiya Janata Party office. 16 were injured the blast, 8 police officers and 8 civilians. It was big news in India, but it did not make headlines in Boston.

While there were only 15 runners from India, the Prime Minister made the effort to tweet his remarks, making it clear that he does not stand for terrorism in his country or anywhere else in the world. President Obama made no comment about the Indian attacks.

The world rallied together around the attacks in Boston. It is important that America does the same for its allies.


Rebecca Ruehlman


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