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Culture war

There’s an old joke about how Richard Nixon was the kind of politician who’d cut down an endangered giant redwood, then climb on the stump and make a speech about conservation.

Fast forward to 2020 and Donald Trump, who with every breath plunges Nixonian hypocrisy to heretofore unimagined depths: “I want clean air,” he declared the other day. “I want clean water. I want the cleanest air, want the cleanest water. The environment is very important to me.”

Trump said this, Philip Bump of the Washington Post points out, at a White House event “focused on scaling back the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, which, among other things, mandates environmental reviews for federal projects.”

More precisely, another Post article notes, the president is proposing “fundamental changes to 50-year-old regulations in an effort to speed up new mines, pipelines and hundreds of other projects around the country, including some that could harm the environment and accelerate climate change.”

If your forehead isn’t already numb from years of smacking it in grim disbelief, Trump also told those in attendance at his announcement that, “Somebody wrote a book that I’m an environmentalist and actually called, ‘The Environmentalist’, actually, before I did this… I’ll bring it to my next news conference, perhaps. I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to see it. I’m sure you’ll report all about it.”

Turns out that the book, ‘Donald J. Trump: An Environmental Hero’, came out in 2016 and was written by Edward Russo, a longtime flunky of the Trump Organization and a used-to-be minor New Jersey politician. Russo was an “environmental consultant” for Trump’s golf courses, resorts long criticized for ecological abuse.

But as the head of the New Jersey Sierra Club observes, Trump is “clearly the worst president in history when it comes to the environment. He has tried to destroy the EPA, ignored or violated environmental laws, and put public health at risk. He has stifled new technologies and jobs in green industries, and his rollbacks are endangering public health and increasing health costs.”

This is, of course, all part of the pattern of mindless avarice that has characterized this White House, a wanton display that willfully dismisses scientific evidence or any academic judgement at all as the ramblings of an elitist few – “the pointy headed intellectuals” once mocked by George Wallace and others ever since – and always to the cheers of disaffected, usually white male voters.

Yet another other aspect of this bleak and deeply cynical worldview has arisen during the current Iran debacle – a stated willingness by Trump to attack culture sites, among others in that country, if “Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets.”

Michael Winship, "Culture war," The News. 2020-01-16.
Keywords: Environmental sciences , Environmental policy act , Climate change , Environmental consultant , Environmental law , Public health , Environmental reviews , Richard Nixon , Donald Trump , Iran , America , EPA