President Trump said yesterday that California should follow Finland’s example on forest management and spend “a lot of time on raking and cleaning”, saying he’d heard this about Finland from its president. Of course one problem with that assertion is that, according to Finland’s president, Sauli Niinisto, he never said anything of the kind to President Trump. And if you stop to think of it, given the low population and large forest area of Finland, such widespread manual maintenance would be quite unrealistic. Finns, who appear to have quite a vigorous sense of humor, seized on this news story as a chance to lampoon Trump’s made up claim, posting “Rake America Great Again” tweets, and starting the hashtag #RakingAmericaGreatAgain. According to BBC News:
Finns have been baffled by US President Donald Trump’s comments praising the country for managing its vast forests by raking. Citing a conversation with his Finnish counterpart, Mr Trump said they spend “a lot of time on raking and cleaning”…”I was with the president of Finland, and he said: ‘We have a much different [sic]…, we’re a forest nation.’ And they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things, and they don’t have any problem,” he (Trump) added. But Sauli Niinisto told the (Finnish) Ilta-Sanomat newspaper raking had not come up when they talked. “I mentioned [to] him that Finland is a land covered by forests and we also have a good monitoring system and network,” he said. Finns have been posting pictures of themselves online raking local forests, joking about “raking America great again”.
One Finnish woman suggested she’d upgraded her rake to a vacuum cleaner, posting this picture of herself in the forest with her vacuum cleaner and writing, “Just an ordinary day in the Finnish forest”.
Just an ordinary day in the Finnish forest ~ Ihan normipäivä suomalaisessa metsässä #Trump #forest #firesafety #raking #forestry #Finland #Finnish #CaliforniaFire #RakingAmericaGreatAgain #rakingtheforest #Suomi #haravointi #metsäpalot #rakingleaves pic.twitter.com/YOKA3D6C2K
— Pyry Luminen (@pyryluminen) November 18, 2018
Many people were amused with Luminen’s post above, with this person jokingly wishing they’d thought of the vacuum upgrade, writing, “Damn
@pyryluminen I wish I’d thought of this! I left Finland because I got so tired of using the rake daily… I mean, every bloody day after school, two hours of raking before I even got to my homework! ”
Damn @pyryluminen I wish I'd thought of this! I left Finland because I got so tired of using the rake daily… I mean, every bloody day after school, two hours of raking before I even got to my homework! #RakingAmericaGreatAgain #rakingtheforest https://t.co/4PtnQKTVgv
— TeeKooMusic (@TeeKooMusic) November 18, 2018
Another said that “in Finland even our dogs rake the forests”, which might be one way to get around the low population to land area ratio that would make widespread raking of the forests in Finland completely unrealistic.
— Riia (@Siruoes) November 18, 2018
This person wrote about the unrealistic nature of Finland’s low population raking all of that land, writing, “Finland is about the size of California. Forest cover 75% of land. Population less than in San Francisco Bay area. So much raking per capita!” and including a picture that shows Finland’s snow is likely more of a factor in reducing forest fires, by captioning the snowy picture with the tongue-in-cheek line “Picture from Finland where raking is the reason for not having forest fires.”
Finland is about the size of California. Forest cover 75% of land. Population less than in San Francisco Bay area. So much raking per capita! #tiredofraking #rakingnews #RakeNews #raking #RakingAmericaGreatAgain #rakeamericagreatagain #Finland
— Laura Tiitinen (@LauraTiitinen) November 18, 2018
Another suggested via picture that President Trump’s hairdo could use some raking, writing “Rake America Great Again”.
— Imploded View (@ImplodedView) November 18, 2018
Many seemed very amused by the posts, with this person writing, “I love that the entire country of Finland seems to be trolling @realDonaldTrump.”
— Robert Abooie (@robertabooie) November 18, 2018
Finns certainly seem to have seized upon this invented assertion by Trump to lampoon its ridiculousness, and it is a ridiculous assertion, especially since it isn’t true. Of course there are serious points to be made, too, such as how shallow Trump’s observations about the problems facing California are, how recommending raking is not actually helpful, and how those shallow observations and Trump’s threats to withdraw future funding can be counterproductive and demoralizing. There are many problems contributing to California’s tragic wildfires, including drought, climate change, the Santa Ana winds, and high population density, so that many structures are build in close proximity to each other. Most of those problems are not faced by Finland, except climate change, so comparing California to Finland is also not too productive.