Last night in Sweden

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One of the most widely noted aspects of Donald Trump's campaign rally yesterday in Florida was his reference to a terrorist incident the night before in Sweden:

You look at what's happening in Germany,
you look at what's happening last night in Sweden —
Who would believe this? Sweden!
They took in large numbers, they're having problems like they never thought possible.
You look at what's happening in Brussels,
you look at what's happening all over the world, take a look at Nice,
take a look at Paris.

Since no plausibly relevant incident actually occurred the previous evening in Sweden, some people have suggested that the president's remark might refer to a documentary mentioned the night before on Fox. (See also here.) But most of the reaction took the form of jokes, many of them available on Twitter as #LastNightInSweden.

My personal favorites identify Ikea as the instigator of terror:

or the defender against it:

Like that last one, some others made use of Scandinavian-associated letters:

And there were several jokes about surströmming:

Those who have not experienced this delicacy/weapon can learn more about its effects here:

There were the obligatory Swedish meatball references:

Or could it be Swedish Fish:

The Swedish embassy is puzzled:

But police are said to be circulating a picture of the attacker:

Update — the source of the Ikea Börder Wåll leak adds that

IKEA has already announced that it will design other products in the next few weeks that will be compatible with “Börder Wåll”. According to inside sources, this includes products such as the “Gåwk” watchtower and the “Råtåtåtåtåtå” spring-gun.


  1. Tom S. Fox said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 8:55 am

    Is this good enough for you?–och-hoggravid/

    [(myl) I'm not the judge of anything here. But what set off the reaction on twitter was the phrase "what's happening last night in Sweden", in the context of a list of places where there have been recent violent terrorist attacks, giving the impression that he was describing a similar event that took place on 2/15 in Sweden. The two stories you cite certainly describe problematic things happening in Sweden — or allegedly happening, though I'm sure there are valid examples even if this one is fake — but neither of them describe attacks that happened on the night of February 15th.]

  2. NJ Walker said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 11:10 am

    Fake news. No name of the supposed judge or his jurisdiction. The post has been reprinted word for word in other white supremacist "news" sites. People be careful. These are lies propagated by racists.

  3. Thorin said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 1:11 pm

    Yeah, the links Tom shares are simply sensationalist tabloids, and I can't find anything relating to that story from credible sources. Of course there are bad things happening, including child marriage, in Europe but that particular story is very questionable.

  4. cliff arroyo said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 1:14 pm

    "No name of the supposed judge or his jurisdiction"

    The Swedish language link (a local subsidary of one of the larger newspapers in the country) gives the judge as Malin Toivainen and the location as Växjö and has comments from a childrens ombudsmann, Maria Rydhagen.

    Not all unwelcome news is "fake"

  5. cliff arroyo said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 1:19 pm

    "Of course there are bad things happening, including child marriage"

    Perhaps that was Trump's strategy, get people looking at the bad things happening related to large scale middle eastern immigration in Europe….

  6. Gunnar H said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 1:31 pm

    I don't think it's "fake news" in the sense that it is entirely made up. The Expressen story gives the name of the court (förvaltningsrätten i Växjö, "the administrative court in Växjö") and one of the judges who made the decision (Malin Toivainen). Expressen is an immigration-critical tabloid, but it is a legitimate newspaper. The English version of the story, however, is biased and misleading, painting it as the court condoning the marriage. It does not. Rather, the court determined that committing the girl (against her will) to the care of Social Services was not warranted, but that she could live with her "husband's" family on the condition that there be no further contact with the man she is supposedly married to. This decision may be naive, and is obviously controversial, but does in no way imply that sharia law is somehow being recognized as valid in Sweden.

    I think the story again demonstrates the twisted (accidental?) genius of Trump's rhetoric: by saying something outrageous with no clear link to reality, he creates controversy, gains attention, and forces people to consider a number of more-or-less-plausible interpretations, leading to reporting that supports his message (i.e., Islamophobia) even as it refutes his facts.

  7. Chris Waigl said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 1:34 pm

    Sehwan. I wish he'd pay more than cursory attention to his briefings.

  8. raempftl said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 1:47 pm

    I think those questioning the veracity of the news of Tom's link and assume that he posted it to show that something bad happed in Sweden are showing a bias here. At no point does he write whether he approves or disapprove of the decision.

    As this Wikipedia page regarding marriageabel age shows, in Luthenia, too, is possible to marry when 14 under certain circumstances. Tom would have also posted this news if it was about a Luthanian girl and if the article contained the sentence "This means that Sweden now approves of alle EU member states marriage law." Am SURE he actually approve of the courts decision.

    German lawmakers recently decided that they will change German law regarding marriageable age to mean that Germany will not recognise marriages between persons under 18. If ever a a marriage of a16-year-old married Solvakian mother is dissolved by German authorities after she moved there making her a single mother, he will post an article about it to show his outrage.

  9. Jerry Friedman said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 2:59 pm

    So the idea is that "you look at what's happening last night in Sweden" should have been more like "you look last night at what's happening in Sweden"? Sounds like the politicians refuge of "I misspoke" might actually apply this time.

  10. Jerry Friedman said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 3:02 pm

    the politicians refuge

    O Muse of Orthography, help with the apostrophe!

  11. RP said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 3:07 pm

    Those issues – what the marriageable age should be (in France it was 15 until 2006, and this had nothing to do with Islam) and whether underage-married persons should have recognition given to their marriage when they move to Sweden or other countries – are, of course, very interesting, but it's difficult to see what connection they have to Trump claiming a terror attack took place on Friday night.

    What may be more relevant is that the far right are trying to demonise Sweden in order to undermine liberal values worldwide (see ).

  12. RP said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 3:17 pm

    Regarding the Swedish law on child marriage, the Swedish government is already looking into changing the law ( ).

  13. D.O. said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 3:27 pm

    Trump's and his supporters' logic is very simple and direct: there are bad things happening in the world; some of them are done by Muslims; some of them are done by Muslims who immigrated to the West; because the West does not have an obligation to let in immigrants, it can rid itself from the bad things done by Muslim immigrants by not allowing Muslim immigrants. This reasoning is completely straightforward and unassailable. If you disagree with the conclusions, there are several possibilities how to counter it, but it is not by pretending that there are absolutely no bad things done by any Muslim immigrants anywhere. If you do, the discussion will be forever trapped in recounts of which exactly bad things Muslims done in which country.

    All this has nothing to do with this post, though. Obviously, Trump didn't mean some court decision in an obscure Swedish town. He is just dealing in anti-immigrant emotions, what exactly happened in Sweden is neither here nor there.

  14. Zeppelin said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 4:48 pm

    D.O.: Surely that logic only works if we assume that Muslim immigrants either do uniquely bad things or do more bad things per capita than non-Muslims. Since otherwise keeping them out will do nothing to reduce the overall rate of Bad Things occuring. Seems to me like their proposal still requires proof of that to be viable, even if I grant that we have no obligation to accept immigrants.

  15. John Laviolette said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 5:17 pm

    Trump's reference to what happened in Sweden can't possibly be about the legal age of marriage, because although the currently allowed age of marriage in general in the U.S. is 18, that's without parental consent or court approval. In many states, exceptions can push the age restriction down to 15, 14 in Alaska, New York, and North Carolina, 13 in New Hampshire, no minimum in 27 other states… and as late as thirty or forty years ago, it was as low as 12 in many parts of the South. Child brides were pretty common in America, way before any major influx of Muslim immigrants.

  16. Talnik said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 6:22 pm

    It's simple. If you don't know what happened, nothing did. End of discussion. Move on.

  17. Jonathan D said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 6:47 pm

    I didn't hear about Trump's comments until well after the social media response was underway, and find it interesting that they've been so widely interpreted as referring to an "incident", in particular, "terrorist attacks", rather than the idea (now supported by the White House) that it was about what Trump watched on tv the night before.

    Trump didn't use the word "incident", or explicitly mention attacks. The reason we think of attacks is because all the other places mentioned in his list have had relatively recent attacks, combined with his administration's history of referring to "attacks" that didn't happen. Without that context, the idea that Trump made a simple error saying "you look at what's happening last night" meaning "you look last night at what's happening" is more plausible, with the reference to last night [on tv] necessary because there isn't a specific incident involved (unlike the rest of his list). I'm sure Mark could say more about those type of errors/ambiguity more generally.

    I don't know whether Trump deliberately chose to imply something with no link to reality, or simply intend to link the tv report and well known attacks in his usual casual style, but either way I have to agree that it is part of the genius of his rhetoric. It doesn't hurt him at all to have different people taking different interpretations from what he said.

  18. D.O. said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 6:55 pm

    Zeppelin, no. We might have less "capita". Anyways, arguments from religious tolerance, common decency, and contributions of people from different backgrounds seems to be a better way to forge forward.

  19. Bloix said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 7:52 pm

    Tom S Fox – are you outraged that New York State permits marriages of 14-year-olds? Perhaps our President will weigh in on that, since he's so protective of women's and children's rights. Oh , right – it has nothing to do with Muslims. Never mind.

  20. Mark Mandel said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 8:08 pm

    LiveJournal chokes on HTML, right or wrong:

    [Error: Irreparable invalid markup (<img […]×72/1f1ea.png">') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

  21. Zeppelin said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 10:12 pm

    D.O.: "Zeppelin, no. We might have less 'capita'."

    I'm not sure I follow you. Surely the basic logic of anti-immigration thought when it comes to crime is "these foreigners don't share our values/will commit terrorist attacks/are less law-abiding than us natives, so letting them in will make us less safe", which is a crime rate concern. So they need to demonstrate that the foreigners they want to keep out are in fact more dangerous than the natives.
    I don't think overpopulation is their main concern, except possibly in the sense that they fear their own "race" being "outbred" by said foreigners, in which case we're right back to them having to demonstrate why that would be a bad thing per se.

  22. rootlesscosmo said,

    February 19, 2017 @ 10:58 pm

    "A Montana judge is under fire for sentencing a 54-year-old former teacher to just 30 days in jail for raping a 14-year-old girl who later committed suicide.'

    (source: USA Today, Aug. 28, 2013)

    This is one of a great many similar instances that might be adduced. I don't know what sharia may or may not prescribe but no one imagines that the Montana judge relied on it to support his decision. What he was enforcing was not sharia, or the Talmud, or the teachings of Bishop Odo of Cluny or any other such post hoc rigmarole, but patriarchy, the power of men to control the sexuality of women and girls. If the Swedish pig is an indictment of Islam, what is the Montana pig an indictment of?

  23. Edwin Schmitt said,

    February 20, 2017 @ 4:41 am

    As someone from Montana who was utterly disgusted by that case in 2013, I think rootlesscosmo has provided the most sensible comment to Tom on this post. Thank you.

    As someone currently living in Scandinavia, I really don't bother spending much time pondering what Trump may or may not have meant in any of his speeches. But the responses on Twitter (the actual content of this post!) are social networking gold :-) Thanks to Mark for collecting them in one place.

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