January 1, 2017

Trump lies matter (even to archeologists)

Anthropology News - Archaeologists Against Trump is the name of a Facebook group. It can also be applied to the writings and actions by a large number of archaeologists concerned with the impact of President-elect Trump on archaeology.

Reaction by archaeologists has intensified since the election, but there were expressions of concerns prior to that. A 2015 New York Times article on the Trump National Golf Club provided some insight into Trump's views on heritage evidence and scholarship. As described in the article, there is a civil war memorial marker on the golf course close to the Potomac River, stating “Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot”. The marker attributes the preservation of the spot to Trump. A problem is that there is no evidence of any loss of life there. Trump appears to have made it up.

In Manufacturing Heritage: History-Making at Trump National archaeologist Paul Mullins furthers the story, discussing Trump's lack of faith in scholarship and academic voices. A pre-election piece In a Historic Election, Where Do the Candidates Stand on Protecting America's Heritage? the author says “As with all things, Donald Trump's record on historic preservation is extravagant and not easily characterized”, describing his use of tax credits and benefits for restoration and redevelopment and the impact of his proposed wall along the border with Mexico. Regarding Trump's wall, in How Trump's Wall Would Trample Hundreds of Archaeological Sites Kristine Killgrove suggests that if the wall were built, at least 126 archaeological sites would be destroyed.

Many archaeologists have been expressing their concerns through Facebook, including the Archaeologists Against Trump group, with more than 2,500 members. As stated on the Facebook page, they are guided by several principles, including “The past deserves a better future”; “The future deserves a better past”; “Small scale actions can support big-scale shifts”; and “Shit's getting real.”

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