Government offices (and rogue employees therein) bringing their issues with the president to the only public platform he seems to care about could become a new standard practice.
Three people who claim to be employees of the National Park Service’s Mount Rainier Park in Washington have taken up where the official NPS and EPA Twitter accounts have been forced to leave off. Last night, they tweeted dozens of times from the handle @AltNatParkSer, promoting climate change facts and the upcoming Scientists’ March on Washington, interspersing jokes like “Parks and Rekt” and “can’t wait for President Trump to call us FAKE NEWS.” The spirit of rebellion is catching: this account has amassed over 300,000 followers overnight, paired with thousands of messages of support from people on Twitter eager to see someone, anyone take a stand against Trump’s despotic new policies.
The Verge was unable to get in touch with the people running the account, and therefore can’t verify the association with the National Park Service. While the account was created in May 2015, the first tweets were sent last night.
“parks and rekt”
The tweets are a response to numerous actions the new president has taken to silence government scientists who espouse the truth of climate change, including removing all mention of the phenomenon from the White House website and reportedly ordering that the Environmental Protection Agency do the same.
The NPS’s online duel with the president started last week. After retweeting photos comparing Trump’s Inauguration Day crowds to those drawn by President Obama in 2009, the NPS was ordered to stop tweeting until further notice. That ban was lifted after a public apology on Saturday. But Trump doubled down on his alarming efforts to silence America’s scientists on Tuesday, announcing gag orders on the EPA and the Department of Agriculture that forbid federal employees from communicating with the public or releasing information of any kind. All of the EPA’s contracts and grants have also been frozen.
In response, someone tweeted out more climate change facts from the Twitter account of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota yesterday afternoon. The park’s superintendent Michael Pflaum told Quartz he did not know who exactly posted the tweets, which have since been deleted, but commented that the Badlands Park was experiencing a blizzard at the time and that no one was in the administrative offices when the tweets were sent. In a comment to BuzzFeed News, an unnamed NPS official said the Badlands’ account had been “compromised” by a former employee.
even tiny acts of rebellion inspire copycats
These tweets quickly inspired copycats: whoever is running the spinoff NPS account @AltNatParkSer tweeted last night: “Respect goes out to our brothers and sisters at the @BadlandsNPS. When they silence you, we will speak for you.” The anonymous tweeter then joked that NPS park rangers were united this election season by their fear of the environmental consequences of Trump’s documented love affair with aerosol hairspray.
Similarly, anonymous parody accounts have taken up the torch of defending science and free speech. One account, which replaces the “l” in Badlands with a capital “i,” has 45,900 followers as of this writing and is busily rattling off disses of the new president and climate change facts drenched in sarcasm. This morning, after Trump announced a federal investigation into completely imaginary widespread voter fraud, the account runner quipped that they would help Donald Trump track down all 323 people in their county who voted for Hillary Clinton.
@BadHombreNPS also began tweeting last night, announcing a plan to “support @BadlandsNPS with the science facts they can no longer share.” That account has 32,000 followers as of this writing. Its most recent tweets are climate change facts and an encouragement to donate to the National Park Foundation, the official charity branch of the NPS.
And another anonymous account called @ungaggedEPA has cropped up to speak for the silenced Environmental Protection Agency:
Beefing on Twitter is an interesting strategy given Trump’s notoriously thin skin — it might actually be the best way to get his attention. He’s made his Twitter account his press office (in addition to a machine of state propaganda). He’s also used his Twitter account to taunt corporations and individuals, who later suffer the consequences of nose-diving stock prices or virulent online harassment. That makes going toe-to-toe with our “Cyberbully-in-Chief” a little risky, but still: for all intents and purposes, it’s the best way to reach him.
We have reached out to the National Park Service, the Badlands National Park, and Mt. Rainier National Park and will update if we hear back.