The incident is not the most important transgression we’ve faced enduring the Trump administration. The reaction to the “Alabama tweet” doesn’t compare to babies being ripped out of parents’ arms. But, the fact that a massive organization like NOAA, made up of scientists dedicated to providing critical safety information, was silenced so as to not embarrass the man up top certainly reveals a level of danger we might not have appreciated.
From a Washington Post story, summarized vie Raw Story, the following terrifies:
“In an agency wide directive sent Sept. 1 to National Weather Service personnel, hoursafter Trump asserted, with no evidence, that Alabama ‘would most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,’ staff was told to ‘only stick with official National Hurricane Center forecasts if questions arise from some national level social media posts which hit the news this afternoon,’” the Post reports.
The story goes on to report that NOAA staff were not to “provide any opinion.” Ironic, because we as a nation hire such staff with PhDs and decades of experience in this field precisely because we need “their opinions.”
One can feel the pain and depression rightly felt by NOAA scientists in the few direct quotes obtained in the story:
“This is the first time I’ve felt pressure from above to not say what truly is the forecast,” the meteorologist explained. “It’s hard for me to wrap my head around. One of the things we train on is to dispel inaccurate rumors and ultimately that is what was occurring — ultimately what the Alabama office did is provide a forecast with their tweet, that is what they get paid to do.”
The entire point of science is to dispel “intuitive” thought, “inclinations” unsupported by evidence. It is only through science, and scientists relying upon measurements and evidence, that we no longer believe that catastrophic weather represents God’s punishment. Silencing experts to appease one man conjures up a divinely appointed king, one never to be questioned.
It was one stupid tweet. So stupid, that it fooled no one, because no one took Trump seriously. But Trump’s need to be “right” surely will play out in situations where the public doesn’t have access to the real facts, where the stakes are much higher, and where Trump will be every bit as wrong. Iin such a situation, we will not have a Birmingham NWS center to quickly correct a dangerous situation.
In other words, we are flying blind. There is a lot that goes on in the world where experts are not allowed to appear on TV and inform citizens as to “reality”. Trump will not allow us to know the truth.
That is much scarier than a stupid tweet about Alabama and a sharpie.
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