By Injae Lee
When the Washington Post published an article reporting how the Trump administration had barred seven words and phrases, such as “diversity,” “fetus,” and “science-based,” from usage by the CDC, the condemnation was quick and relentless. Protesters projected the banned words on to Trump International Hotel’s front entrance, LGBTQ+ and many other activist and civil rights groups criticized the decision, and late night host Seth Rogen suggested that “Donald Trump” be added to that list. Rogen’s joke was sharp and his sentiment shared by many -- if not the majority --of Americans, but this controversy only helps shed light on several flaws of President Trump and his administration. The Trump presidency has proven to be one of incompetence and unreason, often butting heads with the press and its own party and having little regard for science and the will of millions of Americans. President Trump’s move to shun scientific knowledge and reason is an embarrassment and affront to the American people and the globe, and many hope that his regress can be reversed.
Embarrassing and outrageous as it is, the Trump administration’s decision is not wholly surprising. Even before President Trump became President, and long before he chose to run, he has abandoned fact and science for falsehood and slander. In the early years of predecessor Barack Obama’s presidency, Trump claimed that Obama was not born in the United States, implying that thus, he was unfit to inhabit the Oval Office. The incumbent President also claimed that man-made global warming is greatly exaggerated and a hoax spun up by China, even though 68% of Americans and nearly 100% of scientists believe that the human race has contributed to a rise in global temperatures. Trump’s track record has not been much better since he has entered the Oval Office, either. He claimed that his presidential inauguration crowd was significantly larger than President Obama’s in 2009, despite photos to the contrary. He has claimed many successes, such as the growing economy and several diplomatic and budget victories, despite the fact that they were planned during the Obama administration. He is waging war on the nation’s established and well-respected journals of record, the New York Times and the Washington Post, along with dozens more news sources, for keeping the American populace well-informed. His hatred of the media goes so far, in fact, that the President has actually barred certain news outlets - such as the Times, Post, and the Hill - from daily press briefings. This war on knowledge unsurprisingly has extended to include science. Trump has cancelled useful and widely supported scientific research and studies, such as a coal mining study in West Virginia, and many have noted that the number of executive research grants to scientists containing the words “climate change” have decreased. So while the Trump administration’s choice to censor science and progress in the C.D.C. is disappointing and unacceptable, it is not unprecedented, nor surprising.
Some may wonder why the President’s inadequacies and his controversial beliefs are so troubling and a problem that the people need to confront. The answer: Donald Trump holds the presidency, an office with a history of reason and knowledge. The White House has always had a role in innovation and progress. Washington established the two-term precedent and showed that power can be limited. Andrew Jackson’s firebrand populism invigorated the common man. Lincoln emancipated the slaves. F.D.R’s decade in office saw the U.S. rise from economic ruin to become the global hegemon, with access to the awesome and terrible power of the atom. Truman desegregated the Armed Forces. Kennedy showed that nuclear war was not an inevitability, and Johnson enshrined the principle that any and every body can and should exercise the right to vote. These presidents, and dozens more, have done much to advance our nation forward, and try to steady the tide of progress, whether through a televised address or legislation in Congress. Not Trump - he has shown that through his calling global warming a hoax, through his ad hominem attacks on the Fourth Estate, and through his decision to censor the EPA, that in these days, progress and democracy can no longer be trusted in the hands of the President - that this power must come back to whence it came, the people.