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.