It’s been a depressing week, watching Donald Trump dish out Executive Orders aimed at refashioning the US in his neo-fascist image: building walls, listing crimes carried out by immigrants, withholding federal funds for abortions, the abhorrent list seems never-ending. We deserved some kind of good news story. Well, besides that nazi getting punched, that was good.
One of many chilling wars being conducted by the Trump Administration has been against science and scientists, particularly given his keen climate change denial. Reports of gagging orders to stop members of the Environmental Protection Agency speaking to the press along with (unmet) demands to remove sections of their website have created widespread distress and demoralisation (over and above that caused by having Trump for President). Against this backdrop, the official Twitter account of the National Park Service (on whose land the inauguration crowds gathered) tweeted a picture of the crowd last week, alongside a picture of the rather larger crowd for Barack Obama. The account was then temporarily suspended.
Then National Parks “went rogue” or, well, The Badlands National Park tweeted a series of facts about climate change which became a viral sensation before being swiftly deleted.
A series of “rogue” Twitter accounts then popped up, claiming to be run by disgruntled members of various US Government Agencies. The most notable of these being @AltNatParkSer (now renamed @NotAltWorld) which was said to be being run by pissed off rangers who worked for the National Park Service, quite specifically, in Washington.
The media lapped up the tale of rebellion, with a mix of clickbait outlets and liberal erm, clickbait outlets telling everyone about our #roguerangers. [“Government workers are resisting!”, “You need to follow this ‘alternative national parks Twitter.'”] No-one had claimed to have spoken to those behind the account (until a few fucking minutes before this was due to be published, THANX VICE), much less confirmed their identities or verified the many claims made by the account – yet at the time of publication they had amassed over 1.2 million followers, tweeting about the environment, science and, obviously, parks – with a heavy dose of fuck Donald Trump. So what’s the problem?
Oddly enough, it’s one this blog is quite familiar with. Back in 2015, the account chose to interact with Wings Over Scotland, asking for his opinion about the General Election result; a strange thing for any human to do – but an even stranger thing to do if you’re a group of Park Rangers from Washington.
The Tweet started to attract attention, then the bio of the account was updated a few days ago, with the location being changed from “Washington, DC” to “New York, Edinburgh, Hong Kong.” The Park it was alleged the Rangers worked at was in Washington State, if we’re keeping scores. Also…Edinburgh? Their pinned Tweet doesn’t directly state they were ousted from the official account, but it does strongly imply it, in the style of, erm, Braveheart:
Yet the account was later updated to state it’s not run by government workers, having previously claimed to merely not be “subsidised” (with an “s.”) Eagle eyed viewers also noticed the word “programmes,” like the kind you might get at the Edinburgh Festival, was used to refer to US Government “programs.” As of 28th January, the account’s name has been changed to remove any claim it has anything to do with National Parks at all. So we’re glad that’s all totally clear…
It’s pretty remarkable that with all the furore about Trump supporters digesting #fakenews, that there’s been such little comment on the ever evolving tale of this group of rangers/federal employees/friends/friends of friends, from definitely somewhere or other. It seems most journalists, unlike “park rangers,” lack the free time to dig for the truth, so these increasingly prominent “viral” stories are rarely fact checked. If a tree falls on the internet, no-one knows if it’s in a National Park but it doesn’t take much digging to uncover the possible Scottish connection.
If some Scottish person, whether in New York, Hong Kong (or most likely Edinburgh) has helped to amass a huge online army to share facts about climate change, stand up for science and organise against Trump: Take. A. Bow.
We can’t ever forget what a massive fucking mess Donald Trump made of our politics – and our natural resources. So as Theresa May presents Trump with a quaich, a Scottish gift of friendship, it’s hard not to smile at even the vague possibility that the US Government is being trolled by the new hero of Scottish Twitter. In the VICE interview, one of the people behind the account alleges members of the team are “English”…but they’re probably American and Edinburgh is not, in fact, in England…so we’re claiming this one anyway.