President Trump stepped up his authoritarian game on Thursday, this time restricting the language the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can use in documents the agency is preparing for the 2019 budget. Included in the list of forbidden terms were the phrases “evidence-based” and “science-based,” as well as five words: “transgender,” “fetus,” diversity,” “vulnerable,” and “entitlement.”
The change was announced during a Thursday meeting in Atlanta attended by policy analysts and senior CDC officials, the Washington Post reported Friday.
According to an analyst who told the Post of the briefing, the news was received with disbelief. “It was very much, ‘Are you serious? Are you kidding?’” said the analyst. “In my experience, we’ve never had any pushback from an ideological standpoint.”
The source added that the larger scientific community would likely not take the news lightly: “Our subject matter experts will not lay down quietly — this hasn’t trickled down to them yet.”
This is not only Trump’s latest attack on democracy, but also on science. Earlier this year, Trump proposed a budget slashing huge chunks of funds from numerous science and health agencies, including the CDC, which would be hit with a 17% decrease amounting to roughly $1.2 billion in funding. In June, he made the decision to pull out of the monumental Paris climate change agreement.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi blasted the Trump administration on Twitter for their attacks on the CDC’s language. “DANGER!” she wrote. “Trump Admin is going further down a dangerous and un-American path of word and thought control.” She proceeded to list the forbidden words and phrases.
DANGER! Trump Admin is going further down a dangerous and un-American path of word and thought control. @POTUS has no respect for and has banned words including:
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) December 16, 2017
Given Trump’s well-known admiration for dictators, his disdain toward the press, and seemingly nonexistent understanding of what the concept of a democracy is, this latest development is far from being a surprise.