Shaw: California burns with Trump’s insensitivity

A recent tweet by Donald Trump about the spreading wildfires in California was completely ignorant and insensitive to the true realities of the disastrous situation.



Jessica Sijan, whose family is from Paradise and lost everything to the Camp Fire, volunteers to sort out clothes for evacuees gathered at a Walmart parking lot in Chico, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Nichole Shaw, Opinion Columnist

Destructive wildfires continue to blaze through California, spurred on by the Santa Ana winds and low precipitation, killing 42 people from just one fire being referred to as the Camp Fire in and near Paradise, California. This is now the deadliest and most destructive known fire to date in California.

In this time of destruction, loss, and fear, communities have come together despite the odds being stacked against them. However, recent criticism of forest management from President Trump has overshadowed the show of heroism by the community and has shed a negative light on the officials who are doing their best to save people and salvage towns.

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This tweet is ignorant and astounding in its insensitivity. Immediately afterwards, Trump experienced backlash from celebrities, social-media users, and scientists. Trump attempted to remedy the situation by praising the first responders in another tweet and finally approved an expedited request for a major disaster declaration for the state of California. Despite his attempts to make amends, his initial response of criticism shouldn’t be forgotten, and he should be held accountable for his ignorance and insensitivity.

The tweet is astoundingly ignorant, because of the misleading statement “There is no reason for these massive, deadly, and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor.”

Even more astounding is the irony of Trump’s tweet. Much, if not most, of the forest management in California falls under the responsibility of the federal government. Therefore, it is the federal government’s responsibility to maintain the land and keep it from being susceptible to fire. In fact, the federal government owns 45.8 percent of the land in California, according to a 2017 Congressional Research Service report. The region in which the Camp Fire occurred started in the forest reserves right outside the town of Paradise in Butte County, which is owned by the federal government, according to a California Sun map.

So really, if Trump’s tweet had any merit, he would attribute the fault of the deadliest fire in California’s history to the mismanagement of the federal government.

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Scientists across the board have said that the true cause of the wildfires is not known, but what is undeniably true is that climate change has played a huge role. As the president of the United States, it is expected that posts about a major current disaster are accurate and have a sound foundation when being exposed to a nation’s constituents. By posting this misleading information, Trump once again misleads millions who don’t do their own fact checks. This reduces a deadly disaster to an insensitive game of pointing fingers rather than supporting a community during such horrific times.

Even more alarming is the president’s initial insouciant response to the destruction and loss that has blazed through the state. This is blatantly seen when Trump brazenly threatens to defund California because of its alleged mismanagement of funds. If he were to actually do this, Trump would inevitably increase the deadliness of forest fires because there would be less funding to prevent and manage disastrous fire spread. Before posting an emotionally charged, ignorant, and insensitive tweet on Twitter that affects millions of people who have been terrorized by a natural disaster, he must check his facts.

After all, the spread of misinformation and fake news is, ironically, what you campaign against, right, Mr. President?

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