Among the many populations that the Trump administration has managed to alienate (women, people of color, Muslims, immigrants, health care providers, high school students who don't want to be murdered in class, non-hypocritical Christians, anyone with less than a billion dollars in the bank), scientists are at the top of the heap. During his time in office, Trump and his buddies have begun to systematically dismantle federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and many others. Senior positions in these agencies, still, over a year after Trump took office, remain unfulfilled, science advisory panels have been disbanded, and budget cuts and hiring freezes have decimated the federal programs that, quite literally, save human lives. But what would you expect from a man who believes that climate change is a Chinese hoax, relies on Dr. Jenny McCarthy for vaccine advice, and literally banned the CDC from using the words "evidence-based," and "science-based"?
This Saturday, scientists and those who appreciate them will take to the streets for the second annual March for Science, which, in Seattle, begins at 10 AM at Cal Anderson Park and includes speakers like Rep. Nancy Pelosi; Rep. Pramila Jayapal; Jamie Margolin, a 16-year-old student activist; Marco Hatch, a marine ecologist from Western Washington University; Geneva Betnel, a kindergartener from Shoreline who became an anti-straw activist; and more. Last year's Seattle march brought out 25,000, and this year, they are hoping for a repeat.
"It’s more important than ever to come out and march together, because science denial and censorship at the highest levels of government is still rampant and blatant," said Brigit Stadler, a March for Science organizer. "It is vital that all supporters of science—scientists and non-scientists alike—come together to show solidarity as we work to create a more equitable scientific community, one that works for the benefit and protection of all communities."
The march, however, is not without its critics, many of whom have argued that this movement is overly partisan—something science, at its most objective, should never be. If it's too political (too anti-Trump), the critics argue, the march will be perceived from the outside as just a bunch of libtards self-flagellating with their stethoscopes while the people who really need to be convinced that science is valuable are busy greeting shoppers down at the Walmart.
"Scientists are highly educated, the academic version of the 1 percent Wall Street class," Arthur W. Lambert, a postdoctoral researcher at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, wrote last year. "They are also overwhelming Democratic. I can assure you that this has little to no impact on their science or for the potential public impact of their findings. But it would not be unreasonable for a rural blue-collar worker, watching the marches from afar, to perceive them as yet another attack from the condescending elite. We cannot drum up the broad support for science that the march seeks by aggravating a deep divide already present in this country."
Others have pointed out that last year's March for Science in DC was plagued by organizational problems and lacked diversity. But, Stadler says they have been working to address the criticism locally and to learn from it.
"Yes, it could be quite easy for someone to look at these marches and go 'Oh look, they’ve descended from their ivory tower to march in support of the ivory tower,'" Stadler said. "But scientific evidence is non-partisan. When scientific evidence is suppressed, censored, or denied, everyone—Republican, Democrat, Independent—is adversely impacted," she continued. "Our organization is working to reach out and speak to people, to find common ground, to build relationships and bridges. It’s vital to this movement."