The Swedes have really stuck their thumbs in their mouths, now haven’t they?
LAST NIGHT IN SWEDEN
Problems? What problems?
Well, I knew I shouldn’t have said anything. A few days ago I bragged in this space about having overcome my years-long addiction to the New York Times. Then, in the wake of President Trump’s remark on Saturday in Melbourne, Florida, about “last night in Sweden,” I noticed on Facebook that the Times had run a “news story” by one Sewell Chan headlined “‘Last Night in Sweden’? Trump’s Remark Baffles a Nation.” I couldn’t resist.
As it turned out, of course, Trump hadn’t baffled the entire Swedish nation. What had really happened was that a great many members of the Swedish establishment – politicians, journalists, business and academic elites, and so on – had professed that they were baffled. “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking?” asked former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt. Chan himself maintained that some news media (those, you understand, that lean right and have less rigorous journalistic standards than than the august Times) had presented “numerous exaggerations and distortions” about Sweden, “including false reports that Shariah law was predominant in parts of the country and that some immigrant-heavy neighborhoods were considered ‘no-go zones’ by the police.” (False reports, min röv.) Chan went on to quote various Swedish officials who roundly denied that Muslim immigrants had had a significant impact on crime and rape statistics.
To be sure, I was puzzled at first by Trump’s reference to Sweden, and rechecked a few news sources to see if I’d missed something. Then I realized he might have been referring to a segment I’d watched the night before on Tucker Carlson Live. One or Carlson’s guests was filmmaker Ari Horowitz, who had made a documentary about all those non-existent Swedish no-go zones and all that imaginary crime. Sure enough, Trump later tweeted that this was exactly what he was talking about: he’d been watching Tucker Carlson, too. (Which, incidentally, was nice to know.)
But one article calling Trump out on his Sweden remark wasn’t enough for the Times. The next day it ran another. “The Swedes were flabbergasted,” claimed Chan and co-reporter Sewell Baker. Again we heard from Bildt, who this time said: “We are used to seeing the president of the U.S. as one of the most well-informed persons in the world, also well aware of the importance of what he says….And then, suddenly, we see him engaging in misinformation and slander against a truly friendly country, obviously relying on sources of a quality that at best could be described as dubious.” The piece went on to cite this incident as yet another example of Trump alienating “American friend[s]” (something that the Times hadn’t been particularly worried about when Obama was sticking his fingers in the eyes of our allies and sucking up to our foes).