Robert Reich, a professor at UC Berkeley and former U.S. Secretary of Labor, has insinuated that President Donald Trump incited Monday’s riots in Sweden — echoing his unproven conspiracy theory just weeks ago that Breitbart News organized violent demonstrations at his university.
“Trump’s lies have consequences,” Reich wrote Tuesday afternoon on Twitter. “48 hrs after his comments on Sweden, riots broke out in an immigrant community.” His statement refers to President Trump’s comments at a Florida rally this weekend, describing problems in the European country due to heavy migration from Muslim-majority nations:
We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening. We’ve got to keep our country safe. 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.
Establishment journalists mocked this segment of the rally speech, assuming Trump falsely claimed a terror attack had occurred recently in Sweden. Later on, he tweeted that he had seen a report on Sweden on Fox News Friday night. On the primetime show Tucker Carlson Tonight, one segment covered widespread unemployment among asylum seekers in Sweden.
However, just two days later, chaotic migrant riots shut down taunts from Swedish politicians and left-wing reporters. The violence in Rinkeby, a suburb of Stockholm with a large immigrant population, reportedly began after police made a drug-related arrest. Attackers targeted police officers, property, and bystanders. One freelance journalist described the scene as “like a war zone,” and migrant rioters hospitalized a photojournalist for Dagens Nyheter, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers.
Reich, 70, has since deleted the tweet — after a wave of more lucid users found and mocked his theory.
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) February 22, 2017
@RBReich Please explain to me how a riot that was started by migrant gangs over the arrest of a drug dealer is the work of Trump lies?
— Nathan Zehringer (@NathanZehringer) February 22, 2017
Earlier this month, Reich similarly blamed conservatives for violence that made national headlines and embarrassed leftists. After protesters shut down a speech at UC Berkeley by then-Breitbart Tech Senior Editor Milo Yiannopoulos, Reich claimed that he “heard there’s some relationship there between [instigators of arson and physical attacks] and the right wing and the movement that is affiliated with Breitbart News.”
The professor offered no evidence, but CNN anchor Don Lemon egged him on to expound the theory instead of fact-checking the assertion. Reich also found sympathetic ears in Salon, Newsweek, and UC Berkeley’s official blog; they all reprinted a piece where he speculated that “that Yiannopoulos and Breitbart were in cahoots with the agitators in order to lay the groundwork for a Trump crackdown on universities and their federal funding.”
After Breitbart Tech pointed out the left-wing press’s eagerness to spread Reich’s conspiracy, the Washington Post poured cold water on the narrative, calling the supposed plot “phantasmagorical.”