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You look at what’s happening in Germany. You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden! —Who would believe this? Sweden! They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible …
‘Last Night in Sweden’? Trump’s Remark Baffles a Nation, By Sewell Chan, NYT, February 19, 2017
The problem here: The President is a careless speaker, with a loose grasp of sentence structure and syntax.
I don’t mind this, personally. There are many worse things a President might be: He might be an Affirmative-Action mediocrity obsessed with proving how black he is, or he might be an evangelical romantic with a mission to convert the Heathen to Jeffersonian democracy, or he might be a slick sociopath who boffs interns across the desk in the Oval Office, or … Well, you get the idea. Poor speaking skills are not, for me, a deal-breaker.
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.. And some, I assume, are good people.[Links added]
By Washington Post Staff June 16, 2015
There are at least three lapses of sense in that, which is a lot to get into 48 words. That “with us,” for example, in the fourth sentence, should be either “to us” or “with them.” “They’re bringing those problems with us” makes no sense.
And then, “they’re rapists.” It always gets printed in the media as t-h-e-y-apostrophe-r-e “they’re.” It could just as easily be t-h-e-i-r “their,” keying to “their best” in the first sentence.
That actually makes better sense. If he meant “they are rapists,” what was he doing in the next sentence saying that some of them are good people?
My best guess: Trump’s brain got the two meanings of [ðɛə] tangled in his mind because of their occurrence close together in his first sentence, “they’re not sending their best.” I’ve caught myself hitting the same speed bump occasionally—a lot more than occasionally when trying to speak foreign languages.
So the President’s underlying idea was: “They are not sending their best, they are sending their rapists.”
See, there might be only seven rapists in all of Mexico, but those are the kinds of people we’re getting: their rapists, t-h-e-i-r. I seriously doubt the President believed that all Mexicans are rapists, or even all illegal immigrant Mexicans. That would be nuts; and you don’t have a business career as successful as his if you’re nuts.
That’s y-o-u-apostrophe-r-e “you’re,” not y-o-u-r “your,” y-o-r-e “yore,” or y-a-w “yaw.”
Language is a minefield, and English is by no means the worst case. Last week I signed out Radio Derb with a pop song in Cantonese, a language in which any syllable can be pronounced in seven different tones, each with a different meaning. Let’s give thanks our President doesn’t have to address us in Cantonese.
These homophones—”there/their/they’re,” “your/you’re,”—are in fact massively confused by writers of English. Read a few comment threads, even at august outlets like the New York Times. It’s plain that half the population, or at any rate half the comment-posting population, can’t distinguish between y-o-u-apostrophe-r-e “you’re” and y-o-u-r “your.” How that half of the population breaks down by voting preferences, I’ll leave to the psephologists to research.
So, forward to last Saturday and the President saying that, “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden.” It happened that Tucker Carlson over at Fox News, which the President is known to watch, had done a segment the evening before about crime among Muslim immigrants in Sweden. Plainly the President meant to say: “You look at what’s happening in Sweden, as I saw last night.” That sentence is syntactically more complex, though, so his mind fed his tongue something simpler.
It can happen to anybody. I’ve had embarrassing experiences, and so have you.
When it happens to a politician who is loathed by a ninety-five-percent-hostile Main Stream Media, though—a media who are relentlessly vigilant for the tiniest infractions on the President’s part–we have a news story.
The real news story here, it seems to me, is what a bubble our media elites live in.
I don’t have a column in a broadsheet newspaper, or a smirk-o-rama TV show to whip up blue-state metrosexuals into gales of laughter against redneck hillbilly Badwhites. I’m just a guy who browses the internet every morning looking for interesting news stories to pass comment on. Still I’ve been aware for years of the horrible disaster that mass Muslim immigration has brought to Sweden.
I’m not just talking about garish populist tabloids, either. In thirty seconds of searching I found this story from the London Guardian, which is a serious heavyweight newspaper with an editorial line to the left of Walter Ulbricht. Date: May 23rd, 2013—al most four years ago. Headline: Swedish Riots Rage For Fourth Night Opener:
Hundreds of youths burnt down a restaurant, set fire to more than 30 cars and attacked police during a fourth night of rioting in the suburbs of Stockholm, shocking a country that dodged the worst of the financial crisis but failed to solve youth unemployment and resentment among asylum seekers.
Yes, it’s all “youths” and “teens” in the first few paragraphs. This is a broadsheet newspaper, though, so eventually they have to name names. The first person they name, other than a police spokesperson in paragraph five, is one Selcuk Ceken in paragraph six. That’s a Turkish name, not a Swedish one. The next is Rami Al-khamisi in paragraph nine.
Mr. Al-Khamisi tells the Guardian that the problem is, wait for it…”institutional racism.”
Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. One thing, however, is surely beyond dispute: No amount of “institutional racism” would have led to riots and the burning of restaurants in Sweden if the Swedes hadn’t been such damn fools as to open their borders to hundreds of thousands of unassimilable Third Worlders.
Those 2013 riots weren’t a one-off, either. Rioting Muslims are a regular feature of Swedish life nowadays.(In 2008, 2010, 2013, and 2016– not an exhaustive list.) I read the newspapers, including the European ones, every day. I could have told the American media folk about it, if they’d asked.
Or they could have tried reading the papers themselves…No, I guess that would be too much to expect.
In fact, there was another Muslim riot last weekend, even as the TV smirkers were smirking at how dumb our President is. I’d like to tell you that Steven Colbert and crew were embarrassed; but these guys don’t embarrass easy. They just ignored the riot. See, if our media elites don’t talk about something, it didn’t happen.
Going back to the President’s speech issues at last, my suggestion to him would be to play the victim card. He should start putting it out that he’s suffered from dyslexia since childhood. Then our media watchdogs are guilty of what is apparently called “ableism,” making fun of a disabled person [klaxon alarm], just as they have accused Trump of doing—falsely, of course.
That should get Meryl Streep choked up at the next awards ceremony.
John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. ) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He’s had two books published by VDARE.com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and From the Dissident Right II: Essays 2013. His writings are archived at JohnDerbyshire.com.