Citizens petitioning their government, a right protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution, are being called 'terrorists' by the Trump administration.

In a desperate attempt to blame anything except climate change for the deadly wildfires rampaging across California, Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke blamed “environmental terrorist groups” for the blazes. The escalation of rhetoric is a troubling trend in an administration known for authoritarian impulses.

Within the first minute of an interview with Breitbart, a site with known white supremacist ties, Zinke used the word “terrorist” to describe groups that have different political ideas than him.

Zinke claims, citing no specific examples, that environmental groups prevent the type of forest management Zinke says would prevent these catastrophic wildfires. The result is an increase in the “fuel load” that feeds fires, such as dead limbs and twigs.

What type of subversive activities to these so-called “terrorists” engage in to increase the fuel load?

In a follow-up email to the Washington Post, an Interior spokesperson pointed to “a number of instances where environmental groups have submitted petitions to the Bureau of Land Management, halting companies from removing dead and dying timber until the BLM can sort through each petition point.”

In other words, citizens petitioning their government, a right protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution, equates to terrorism for the Trump administration.

Trump’s antipathy for the First Amendment is no secret, as he often refers to the free press as “the enemy of the people.” Now his administration is referring to groups petitioning the government as “terrorists.”

Not only is this rhetoric dangerous, it’s not scientifically sound.

In reality, scientists and wildfire experts say climate change is the primary cause of the wildfires. A recent study cited by the Washington Post shows that heat and drought brought about by climate change led to twice as much land burned in the Western U.S between 1984 and 2015.

“Making minor changes in the fuels [which] you then have to do repeatedly for many years is not going to solve the bigger problem of having to face climate change,” Monica Turner, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, told the Washington Post.

Scientists have repeatedly rebuffed the Trump administration’s wildly inaccurate fabrications as to why the wildfires are as large and intense as they are.

However, the Trump administration has a track record of ignoring and censoring scientists at government agencies, including censoring scientists from using the term “climate change.”

Rather than acknowledge scientific consensus, the Trump administration is now engaging in dangerous rhetoric against the American people, while doing nothing to address the underlying cause of the wildfires.

Published with permission of The American Independent.