Dorian was coming; devastation surely to lay in its wake. President Trump wanted to warn citizens in its path, so he tweeted out a list of states under advisories. Including Alabama. This southern state was not at risk to be heavily impacted by the hurricane, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The tweet was widely criticized, much to the anger of the POTUS. In the Oval Office during a televised segment, Trump flourished a NOAA map that showed Dorian possibly making landfall in Alabama…except the map had been edited. A sharpie had been taken to the map to extend the path to include Alabama, presumably to corroborate Trump’s claim. One unnamed source within the White House says Trump himself was the editor of the map. From there, US Secretary of Commerce (the department that oversees NOAA) apparently threatened to fire any NOAA officials who disputed Trump’s claim. Three sources confirmed this statement, but a spokesperson denied it. In recap, Trump appears to have lied about who was in danger of a weather disaster then NOAA officials were (potentially) threatened to lie about this supposed “fact” as well. Needless to say, this is appalling. People’s lives were at risk and to fabricate scientific data could cost people their lives. We need to trust the warnings our government provides about natural disasters. The concern over this goes incredibly far. What happens if a president invents a “fact” that ends up hurting people? What if a president uses a fake “fact” to increase hatred? Trump has already made racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, and other bigoted claims. The scariest part? People have already believed him. When a leader does not have power over fact and still sways public opinion against minorities, the damage would be extraordinary if they do have that power and hatred becomes fact. Sharpie-gate may be a hilarious name and we may laugh at the memes criticizing Trump, but we cannot take this lightly; the fate of our integrity as a country is at stake.
By Amira Pierotti