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There are many ways to prevent forest fires, and President Donald Trump claims the Finnish president advised him on one such solution: raking. Except there’s one problem. Apparently, President Sauli Niinistö never told him that “raking” prevents wildfires.
On Saturday, Trump visited Paradise, California, and saw the devastating impact left by the Camp Fire wildfire, now considered the most destructive forest fire in California history. While answering reporters’ questions, Trump once again argued that California’s fires were mismanaged, this time suggesting that Finland has the right idea by “raking” their forests preemptively.
“You look at other countries where they do it differently and it’s a whole different story,” Trump said, according to Earther. “I was with the president of Finland and he said, ‘We’re a forest nation.’ He called it a forest nation. And they spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things. And they don’t have any problem. And when it is, it’s a very small problem.”
Ah yes, raking leaves! If only California put its leaves away in time. Trump went on to argue that firemen were doing double duty while battling the fire because the whole state forgot it was raking season.
“I was watching the firemen the other day, and they were raking areas. They were raking areas where the fire was right over there,” Trump argued. “They’re raking trees, little trees like this that are nut trees, little bushes, that you could see are totally dry. Weeds. And they’re raking them, they’re on fire. That should have been all raked out.”
Niinistö has since stressed that he never mentioned “raking leaves” while meeting with the president, instead simply suggesting that Finland takes “care of our forests,” Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat reports. Forestry Director of the Finnish Forest Association Heikki Savolainen believes Trump confused “raking” with “thinning,” a process in which forests’ trees are selectively removed to prevent wildfires from growing out of control.
Finland has ~73% forest coverage = 222,180 square kilometers of forests (world bank study). Our forests are densest in the world, averaging 72,000 trees in sq km. That's 22 billion trees or 4,500 for every Finn (yale university study).— Aki Heikkinen (@akihheikkinen) November 17, 2018
Please send help. Must bring own rakes.
Meanwhile, Finnish Twitter is having fun with the news by dunking on Trump with plenty of photos and videos raking leaves. Two hashtags have since spread across the country, #RakeNews and #haravointi, or “raking” in Finnish.
Hello @realDonaldTrump and #American people! Recently I took this photo of a Finnish forrest. Floor is indeed beautiful and very nice, very beautiful floor. Very much raking. It’s raking beautiful! #Finland #Forest #Raking #Rakenews #MakeAmericaRakeAgain pic.twitter.com/PfSh0xG7jv— Julius Jansson (@julius_jansson) November 18, 2018
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
Greetings from #Finland! Just finished raking leaves here.#RakeAmericaGreatAgain #RakeTheForest #Trump #SundayFunday #SundayMorning #rakenews #CaliforniaWildFires #ClimateChange #haravointi #metsänhoito #ilmastonmuutos #Suomi pic.twitter.com/vqD99kmUgj— Kristiina Vahvaselkä (@TravelWithXtina) November 18, 2018
Greetings from #Finland! Just taking a break from raking leaves and having a lunch. We have the best rakes in the world! #RakeAmericaGreatAgain #RakeTheForest #Trump #SundayFunday #SundayMorning #rakenews #CaliforniaWildFires #ClimateChange #haravointi #metsänhoito #CampFire pic.twitter.com/gsM8CbLdSi— Kristiina Vahvaselkä (@TravelWithXtina) November 18, 2018
The rest of the world is joining in too, including Monty Python’s John Cleese, who says Finnish raking “helps to cool the wood down.”
Be fair to President Trump when he gets something right !— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) November 18, 2018
There ARE fewer forest fires in Finland than in California
It's basically to do with the temperatures
But top class Finnish raking helps to cool the wood down
Doesn't "Finland" come from the Latin for "Those who rake their forests?"— Dani Bostick (@danibostick) November 18, 2018
I already have a rake @realDonaldTrump. I just need you to believe in climate change and realize that it’s going to take more than raking to prevent fires. #CalFire #RakeNews pic.twitter.com/foudK3mRcZ— MONICA MALLON (@monicamallon) November 18, 2018
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In the meantime, Trump also gained the public’s wrath after mistakenly referring to Paradise, which was virtually wiped off the map by the Camp Fire, as “Pleasure.” The president also gave himself a pat on the back for a job well done over the past two years in office.
“Look I hate to do it, but I will do it, I would give myself an A-plus,” Trump replied when Chris Wallace asked him to grade his presidency, the Washington Post reports. “Is that enough? Can I go higher than that?”
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.