When President Donald Trump stepped off Air Force One in Melbourne on Saturday for his unconventional after-election campaign rally watchers were anticipating some form of incredulous speech to be inevitably uttered.
When he once again bashed the media, a chorus of boos arose and many assumed that was the end of his rant for the day. But then he switched to immigration. And then he puzzled the globe.
"You look at what's happening in Germany,” Trump said. “You look at what's happening last night in Sweden — Sweden — who would believe this? Sweden, they took in large numbers, they are having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what's happening Brussels, you look at what's happening all over the world.”
The crowd at the rally nodded along in sympathy to the plight of the Swedish, while the rest of the world began scratching their heads and heading to Google to find out what immigration tragedy Sweden had undergone.
Even Sweden was baffled.
Let’s give Trump the benefit of the doubt.
The claim is the president watched a riveting, if not slightly inaccurate Fox News segment where the filmmaker claimed Sweden had accepted 160,000 asylum seekers from the European migrant crisis in 2015 and now was facing a huge increase in crime.
While applauding the fact he is watching any form of the “crooked” media, it is crucial he remember the skills of deduction learned during his time as a student at the University of Pennsylvania. When one hears information making a claim that contradicts common knowledge, one should fact check said claim before one accepts it as truth.
Maybe Trump really did believe there was a recent jump in crime due to Sweden’s immigration policies. But to make such firm stances without even taking two minutes to double check their validity is absurd.
Sweden is echoing that sentiment following the remark.
"I was, like many others, surprised by the comments made about Sweden this weekend,” said Stefan Loefven, the Prime Minister of Sweden, in a press conference in Stockholm. "We must all take responsibility for using facts correctly and verifying any information that we spread.”
Speaking so rashly about issues of national and international security is dangerous. Speaking about them incorrectly causes everything the president utters to be drawn into clouds of doubt.
While no one should be constantly taken at their word, the world shouldn’t have to fact check everything the President of the United States utters. There should be some semblance of trust, of supreme professionalism, emanating from the White House.
To see otherwise is greatly disheartening.
This world is full of tragedies. Civil wars, terrorism, natural disasters and conflict are found on every continent. So many misfortunes occur it is impossible to feel sorrow or sympathy for all of them.
Trump could have easily highlighted one of the many, and real, catastrophes happening across the world. Granted he would have had to know about one, but still it is not an unfeasible option.
Instead, he made up a calamity that never occurred and then became infuriated when he was called out on it, as is showcased in his angry tweets following the reveal no such incident has occurred.
And Americans, for the most part, played along. Profile pictures were changed to show the person stands with “whatever it was that happened in Sweden.” Many joked Sweden supported America after our tragic Bowling Green Massacre and thus it was our responsibility to return the favor.
And yes, on one level it is hilarious that the president is so desperate to get people to support his stances he will lie to make them sound more reasonable. On the other, it is utterly terrifying that the president is completely willing to lie to ensure people support his inane views.
Lies cannot be permitted, regardless of how true the person who utters them believes them to be. The president is held to a higher standard than a Twitter troll. It is imperative he fact checks before he spews outlandish claims or we will spend the next four years being the laughing stock of the world.