Perhaps one of the best-remembered quotes from George Orwell’s dystopian book 1984 is “Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” Over the last year, the Trump administration has taken those words literally, using them as a blueprint to recreate a federal government focused on big business and socially conservative policy.
And nowhere has this been more apparent than on federal websites. Appointees have been scrubbing and rewriting text to erase climate change, sexual health care, civil rights — and even our nation’s history.
Here are five things the Trump administration has removed from federal websites in an attempt to roll back progress.
1. Climate Change
As our country continues to be pounded by devastating and unseasonable storms, the Environmental Protection Agency is pretending that climate change remains just a theory. Removing mentions of climate change was one of Secretary Scott Pruitt’s initial actions when he took over the agency, and he saw to it “personally,” according to Newsweek.
“Recently released emails reveal that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt personally oversaw efforts last year to strip information on climate change from the agency’s website,” Newsweek reports. “Internal messages sent in April 2017 show that newly appointed EPA leaders directed staffers to make key changes to the epa.gov website. Edits ordered by Pruitt demanded that data on climate change and the Obama-era Clean Power Plan to be stripped away.”
2. Our Historical Legacy of Immigration
Unless you’re a Native American, there’s no one in this country who doesn’t have an immigrant in their family history — willing or forced due to slavery. Yet in their anti-immigrant zealotry, the Trump administration is erasing that fact from our historical legacy.
USA Today reports:
The US is no longer devoted to securing “America’s promise as a nation of immigrants.” That’s according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) anyway, which changed its official mission statement late Thursday and dropped the language to describe the country.
3. Bilingual Content
And as another sign of the administration’s stance against immigration and racial diversity, the White House website has gone “English only” for the first time since the 1990s, with no Spanish translations of any information available online.
According to the Associated Press:
A year ago, then-presidential press secretary Sean Spicer said the new administration had deleted Spanish content on the White House webpage but its information technology folks were “working overtime” to develop a new site. In July, the White House director of media affairs, Helen Aguirre Ferre, said she expected a Spanish website to launch at the end of 2017. Now, Aguirre Ferre declines to say whether there are still plans to have a Spanish-language website.
One of the first actions taken by the administration was to remove any references to non-heterosexuality from the State Department website. Soon after the inauguration, NBC News reported:
On Tuesday, it appeared that nearly all mentions of the acronym “LGBT” had been taken off the State Department website (the department typically did not include the acronym’s “Q,” which is used by some — though not all — in the LGBTQ community). Entering “LGBT” into the website’s search field resulted in numerous dead links where webpages used to house information about LGBTQ Pride month, LGBTQ refugees, LGBTQ human rights issues, human trafficking of LGBTQ people and the Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons.
Not only did such references never return, but the administration also created a “forbidden words” list that kept many LGBTQ terms from being used in official capacity at all.
5. Women’s Rights
And finally, as the State Department prepares to release its annual report on international human rights, women are being “pared back” when it comes to reproductive rights and freedom from gender-based discrimination. Politico reports:
State Department officials have been ordered to pare back passages in a soon-to-be-released annual report on global human rights that traditionally discuss women’s reproductive rights and discrimination, according to five former and current department officials. The directive calls for stripping passages that describe societal views on family planning, including how much access women have to contraceptives and abortion. A broader section that chronicles racial, ethnic and sexual discrimination has also been ordered pared down, the current and former officials said.