On November 10, Trump tweeted that “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”
To say that Trump’s now infamous tweet was inane is to vastly understate the case. Professional firefighters and forest management experts have praised California’s officials and First Responders for their expertise and bravery. Trump, alone, has seen fit to criticize the state’s reaction to the crisis.
The IAFF has made its displeasure with the White House very clear. In the statement on the group’s web page, Schaitberger goes on to say that, “The early moments of fires such as these are a critical time, when lives are lost, entire communities are wiped off the map and our members are injured or killed trying to stop these monstrous wildfires…To minimize the crucial, life-saving work being done and to make crass suggestions such as cutting off funding during a time of crisis shows a troubling lack of real comprehension about the disaster at hand and the dangerous job our fire fighters do.”
Meanwhile, Brian K. Rice, the president of the California Professional Firefighters union, also responded to Trump’s tweet. In a statement posted to the union’s web, Rice noted that “The president’s message attacking California and threatening to withhold aid to the victims of the cataclysmic fires is Ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines.”
Rice also made the point that Trump seems almost fantastically misinformed about the fires. He writes, “The president’s assertion that California’s forest management policies are to blame for catastrophic wildfire is dangerously wrong. Wildfires are sparked and spread not only in forested areas but in populated areas and open fields fueled by parched vegetation, high winds, low humidity and geography. Moreover, nearly 60 percent of California forests are under federal management, and another one-third under private control. It is the federal government that has chosen to divert resources away from forest management, not California.”
And Rice and Schaitberger aren’t alone. Since Trump’s comments hit the news, state, local, and national figures have rushed to the defense of the fire fighters. CNN is quoting singer Katy Perry as saying, “This is an absolutely heartless response…There aren’t even politics involved. Just good American families losing their homes as you [Trump] tweet…” Another celebrity to comment was actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who NBC is quoting as tweeting, “The reason these wildfires have worsened is because of climate change and a historic drought.” In other words, it wasn’t California’s “gross mismanagement” that caused the fires, but rather Washington’s disregard for global warming.
In short, the current resident of the White House has once again shown himself to be ill-informed, wrong-headed, unnecessarily combative, and, just generally, a bully and and an ignorant lout.
But then, that was to be expected.