THURAVIL: US administration is fueling war on facts

Opinions Column: Sip on Your Chai


It is evident to us by now that President Donald. J. Trump's administration has little to no regard for science and fact-based evidence. Several incidents, such as the nomination of Scott Pruitt, an experienced legal figure staunchly against the existence of environmental protections, to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have proven time and again that our sitting president does not care about the people or the country and would prefer to see them both burn to fuel his special interests.

The latest leaked memo from the White House serves to prove just that.

In an internal White House document obtained by Crooked, the administration hopes to cut in half the funding that goes toward services that facilitate family planning for poorer families and instead reroute that money toward promoting the highly controversial fertility awareness method of birth control — a method in which those who are fertile must keep close track of their fertility cycles to note when they have the lowest chances of getting pregnant. This memo comes hot on the heels of the latest piece of legislation regarding reproductive health which consisted of extensive guidelines for employers to exempt themselves from covering birth control in employee health insurance. Science has proven time and again that the fertility awareness, or “calendar,” method fails nearly a quarter of couples each year, yet the administration insists on pushing archaic and outdated knowledge as fact. Dr. Kristyn Brandi, a Los Angeles-based OB/GYN, warns that “It would be especially harmful to girls who don't have an awareness of their bodies or of other evidence-based methods to prevent pregnancy." Not only is the promotion of this dangerous, it exacerbates the culture of ignorance and misinformation that we have been brewing in this country for nearly two centuries, and somehow gotten away with.

The American brand of ignorance is something unique. In a study done by the European Journal of Communication, citizens from the U.S., Denmark, Britain and Finland were asked questions on international affairs, current affairs and general news items. Beaten by Europeans by a wide margin, Americans came in last, clocking in at only 58 percent being able to answer some basic questions, such as identifying what the Taliban is. One major factor that has been implicated in the culture of ignorance is the decentralized education system — when the curriculum of every student is left up to the individual, mostly-partisan states that they live in, it leaves only a small pool of common knowledge that can be used to enlighten citizens with and foster a stronger interest in current events. But centralized learning is something the Department of Education, spearheaded by Secretary Betsy DeVos, is vehemently opposed to. DeVos herself has mentioned several times how public schooling is a “dead end” and has championed for the school voucher system over the public school system, despite for-profit charters being consistently proven to be ranked lower than public schools and vouchers being proven to time and again hurt kids. This is yet another example of how the current administration shoves proven facts and statistics into a stowed-away box and pushes “alternative” science out to the public to try and demonstrate that they are working for the welfare of the people instead of satisfying the special interests and corporations that pay them millions.

If this goes on for any longer, and we allow ourselves to be fed these lies by the current, highly incompetent administration, we may as well give up and call the government what it is: totalitarian (whether we will still be educated enough to have the word “totalitarian” in our vocabulary by the time we reach that point is debatable). Our thoughts, intelligence and personal intellectual freedom will all be governed and restricted by the few who want to keep power and succumb entirely to the dangerous and harmful culture of misinformation. This may seem like an over-dramatization to some, but it is a fair prediction to make. Our country is not just moving further to the right, it is moving straight towards a dark hole of blind, uneducated faith and a lack of free thought.

Trump does not want to make America great again — he wants to rebuild America to represent him: ignorant, blindly egotistical and wholly unequipped to function as a powerful country in the global landscape.

Neeharika Thuravil is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in computer science and astrophysics. Her column, "Sip on Your Chai," runs on alternate Wednesdays.

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