Trump Gets Blasted For Offering Verbal Attack Instead Of Condolences Over California Fires

Published on August 6, 2018 by Athena Pallas

President Trump, in light of the tragic loss of life and property resulting from the California fires, decided to launch a verbal attack against California, rather than expressing condolences or support, in a tweet last night. People reading the tweet were quick to note its factual inaccuracies and unsympathetic tone. Among other oddities in his tweet, Trump accused California of “diverting” water to the Pacific Ocean, blamed environmental laws, and recommended clear-cutting trees to avoid the spread of fire. He of course neglected to mention the scientific consensus that such wildfires are becoming more common due to climate change. According to the Huffington Post:

As California wildfires claimed their seventh victim, Donald Trump finally weighed in on the tragedy with one of his most confounding tweets ever, blaming California for the blazes because it “diverts” water to the Pacific Ocean. He also blamed the state’s “bad environmental laws” — the most protective in the nation — and trees. He called for a “tree clear to stop fire spreading.” He failed to express condolences to the families of the victims, thank firefighters, or offer comfort to Californians afraid for their lives, homes and communities…It’s unclear what the president meant by water “diverted” into the Pacific. California allocates water among residents, agricultural and industrial use, and for wetlands and wildlife, including water mandated to protect endangered species. But state waters eventually drain into the ocean. As one tweeter responded: “Water running into the Pacific Ocean is called a river.” And firefighters haven’t complained of a lack of water for battling the blazes.

This was Trump’s tweet, in which he wrote, “California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!”

Among the comments calling Trump’s statement ridiculous was this one from Canadian professor Eric Kennedy, who wrote, “As a professor who specializes in wildfire management, there are a lot of things that are broken about how we prepare for & fight wildfires… but it’s near impossible to overstate how ridiculous this comment is.”

Another person wrote, “I had to come look if this was a real tweet. Ummmmm….gee….. You seem to know next to nothing about California. Fires are more often fought with flame retardant. Mowing down a forest to keep the forest from burning is on the crazy side.”

Another noted that water is not being diverted to the Pacific Ocean, it is “headed there anyway”. The opposite of what Trump is saying is what is actually happening – water is being diverted from its natural flow into the ocean to use for agricultural, industrial and other purposes.

One theory expressed in the Huffington Post about why Trump is yammering on about the diversion of water in a “muddled” way is that he may be expressing support for giving farmers a larger allocation of limited water supplies, something the GOP is working to push forward in Washington.

Another aspect that comments on Trump’s tweet reflected was Trump’s continued status as a climate change denier, despite mounting evidence and consensus in the scientific community that climate change is real and is, among other things, contributing to an escalation in the severity of hurricanes and contributing to an increase in the frequency of wildfires. As this person wrote, “No you , scientists have been seeing the fingerprints of all over these fires and it’s making them far worse. Why don’t you offer your condolences and then maybe read something aside from the McDonalds menu.” Korenha included a link to a San Francisco Chronicle article about the connection between climate change and California’s fires.

President Trump is continuing his odd pattern of exhibiting a lack of sympathy for people devastated by the impact of natural disasters. Trump takes to Twitter to blame California, just as he blamed Puerto Rico for costing the government too much money in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Through a spokesperson or through words not his own, Trump will sometimes express a muted concern for disaster victims, but then what he truly thinks and feels is revealed in Twitter posts such as this one. To most people it seems so unnatural, and not at all presidential, that Trump chooses to rail against people and states suffering natural disasters, but it probably comes from an aspect of his narcissism. Narcissists often lack empathy.

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Featured image by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.