President Donald Trump was able to anger people in two different European countries with his speech at the NRA convention as trauma surgeons in London pushed back against a ridiculous claim about knives and French leaders expressed disgust that the president mimicked the shooting of people in Paris in 2015 to make his point.
Trump told the audience in Dallas that a “once very prestigious” hospital in London was suddenly finding it difficult to deal with a surge of knife-attack victims. “They don’t have guns. They have knives and instead there’s blood all over the floors of this hospital,” he said. “They say it’s as bad as a military war zone hospital. Knives, knives, knives, knives.” The ever-classy president went on to make stabbing gestures.
Although he didn’t name what hospital he was referring to, it seems to be related to a BBC Radio 4 interview last month in which London trauma surgeon Martin Griffiths said the hospital where he works, the Royal London Hospital, had been likened to a war zone.
“Some of my military colleagues have described their practice here as being similar to being at Bastion,” Griffiths said in the interview that was then used as the basis for a Daily Mail article. “About a quarter of what we see in our practice is knife and gun injury. And it’s now we’re doing major life-saving cases on a daily basis.” Griffiths took to Twitter to say Trump had missed the point of his comment and extended an invitation to visit the hospital where he works. Karim Brohi, director of London’s major trauma system and a trauma surgeon at the Royal London Hospital, issued a statement saying it was “ridiculous” to suggest “guns are part of the solution” to the problem of knife attacks. “Gunshot wounds are at least twice as lethal as knife injuries and more difficult to repair,” he said.
When it came to talk about the 2015 terrorist attacks on Paris, Trump mimicked gunmen summoning and shooting victims one by one. “Boom! Come over here!” Trump said as he used his hand to imitate firing a gun to make his point that anyone with a gun could have stopped the attacks.
The French Foreign Ministry was none too pleased with Trump’s antics. “France expresses its firm disapproval of the comments by President Trump about the attacks of 13 November 2015 in Paris and asks for the memory of the victims to be respected,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said. François Hollande, who was French president at the time of the attacks, took to Twitter to call Trump’s remarks “shameful” and “obscene.” Manuel Valls, who was prime minister during the attack, kept his Twitter comment short: “Indecent and incompetent. What more can I say?”