Earlier this month, Kellyanne Conway appeared on MSNBC to defend Donald Trump’s Muslim ban and referenced “the Bowling Green massacre,” a thing that definitely didn’t happen. At best, it was an innocent and stupid mistake, but at worst, it was an attempt to drive up anti-Muslim sentiment to get more people on board with the ban. Unfortunately for anyone still hoping it’s the former, Trump himself did a similar thing at his rally in Florida last night, denouncing some horrible event that had happened in Sweden on Friday even though such an event did not happen. Has it ever been so difficult to distinguish between ineptitude and evil?
During what was surely a cogent tirade about what happens when countries let in too many immigrants, Trump said, simply, “look what’s happening last night in Sweden,” apparently assuming that everyone watching his speech would be too insecure about their own intelligence to actually look it up and see what “happening” in Sweden last night. Naturally, the people of Sweden were pretty surprised to find out that something horrible had “happening,” and The New York Times reports that even former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt tweeted about this awful thing that only exists in Trump’s doughy, orange head:
On Sunday, though, Trump explained that his reference to Sweden was from a story he had seen on Fox News about a supposed crime wave that the country has experienced since welcoming in waves of refugees. This crime wave is part of a theory created by a filmmaker named Ami Horowitz, who believes that these attacks are being covered up and that Sweden “had its first Islamic attack not that long ago.” The New York Times fact-checked this, noting that it’s unclear what Horowitz was even referring to in that statement, making Trump’s comment even more bizarre.
So here’s what happened: Trump implied that something bad had “happening” in Sweden on Friday, which is an idea that he got from a Fox News report—and not from one of the many intelligence briefings that he is hopefully privy to. However, the report itself was based on one person’s claims that Sweden is suffering from a crime wave that nobody knows about because someone is covering it up, which is about as flimsy as a particularly flimsy piece of IKEA furniture. Basically, Trump is using inaccurate—or at least incredibly vague—information to try and justify his desire for an openly racist Muslim ban, and once again, it’s very difficult to tell if he’s just maddeningly stupid or unconscionably evil.
Of course, as we like to say around here, it can be two things.