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GOP lawmakers mock LGBTQ people and deny climate change in response to wildfire smoke

Conservatives in Congress and Fox News pundits are making light of the dangerous air quality caused by Canadian wildfires that is posing a public health threat to millions of Americans.

By Emily Singer - June 09, 2023
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People run, with the Washington Monument in the background and covered by a thick layer of smoke, at the National Mall, June 8, 2023, in Washington. Thick, smoky air from Canadian wildfires made for days of misery in New York City and across the U.S. Northeast this week.
The Washington Monument is covered by a thick layer of smoke at the National Mall, June 8, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

As smoke blankets the East Coast, putting millions of people at risk, Republican lawmakers are mocking the situation and denying that climate change is in part to blame for the unprecedented situation. 

The smoke is coming from more than 150 wildfires that are burning out of control in Canada. The smoke is dangerous because wildfires burn everything in their wake, including materials that create toxic particles when combusted. It can cause wheezing, coughing, lung damage, heart attacks, and strokes — even in healthy people — but especially in older populations and those with preexisting conditions like asthma or cardiovascular disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

However, Republicans like Reps. Derrick Van Orden and Tom Tiffany, both of Wisconsin, are blaming the fires on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while using them as an opportunity to mock his support of LGBTQ rights.

“Can someone ask @justintrudeau what pronouns forest fires use? I would like them to stop polluting our air but do not want an HR complaint,” Van Orden tweeted

“We need some answers from Prime Minister Trudeau rather than him diving into Pride month and doing all those woke things that really have no benefit to peoples’ lives,” Tiffany said in an interview on Newsmax.

Tiffany also spread a conspiracy theory that the fires in Canada were started by arson, even though there is no evidence that is the case. Experts instead say the fires are so bad because of the effects of climate change, which Tiffany has denied is real. 

Other Republicans are criticizing Democrats for pointing out the connection between the fires and climate change or are denying it is related to climate change at all.

“This isn’t the moment to start lecturing people about the science of climate change,” Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY) said on Fox News. 

“Absolutely not,” Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) said in an interview on Fox Business in response to a question about whether climate change is to blame for the wildfire smoke.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) poked fun at Canada for having leadership that recognizes that climate change poses a real threat to people’s health.

“New York has the worst air quality in history due to wild fires from Climate Cult Canada,” she tweeted, along with a video of orange smoke blocking views of the New York City skyline. 

Meanwhile, personalities on Fox News are downplaying the risk of the smoke even though experts say breathing in the toxic fumes is dangerous for everyone.

“There’s just no health risk,” Fox News contributor Steve Milloy, a lobbyist for tobacco and oil companies who denies climate change is real, claimed on host Laura Ingraham’s program Wednesday night. “This doesn’t kill anybody, this doesn’t make anybody cough. This is not a health event. It’s got nothing to do with climate.”

Democrats, for their part, are calling Republicans out for not taking the wildfires or climate change seriously. 

“The most important thing you can do about climate change is beat Republicans electorally,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) tweeted. “That doesn’t exonerate me or anyone else for as much action as possible, but the fact is more aggressive action on the planetary crisis depends on the composition of the Congress.”

“Imagine being a Republican climate change denier in Congress – you show up to work at the Capitol today, see the skies filled with smoke… and you still don’t get that we need bold and immediate action to save our planet?” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) tweeted. “Ridiculous.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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