Secretary Zinke’s Sham Review of Monuments Fizzles to an Uncertain End, Insults the Public

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No doubt freshly tanned from an oddly timed vacation to Greece near the end of his review of national monuments, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released a massive 1 1/4 page document summarizing his work and refused to hand over his actual recommendations to the American public the day it was due.

The report summary looks very familiar to this teacher’s eyes. Most of it repeats the assignment rather than offering any new, substantive information. I assume everyone (including even the President) knew, for instance, that ” use of the Act has not always been without controversy,” one of the observations passing as original work in the report.

The fundamental con here is that Zinke is presenting his work as something other than the political gamesmanship. His review, which he proudly notes included tours “over air, foot, car, and horseback,” excluded most of the monuments he said he’d review. At some point, he must have decided that there were diminishing returns to be had by getting photographed while on horseback and he simply gave up on visiting the local stakeholders and communities involved. Zinke wants us to believe that a rushed, self-promoting, incomplete review is somehow more scientific than the work that went into previous monument designations, a claim even more ludicrous than the way Secretary Zinke wears a cowboy hat.

The worst part of the report summary, though, comes in its only new work. The last two paragraphs are dedicated to shitting on the people who took the time to comment on the fate of our national monuments. Instead of commending people who took the time to directly engage with their government, Zinke dismissed them and insulted their intelligence. Faced with overwhelming public support for the preservation of monuments, Zinke’s report summary calls their entirely warranted fears about land transfer unfounded and dismissed their remarks as part of an “orchestrated” campaign.

Just a little reminder that Secretary Zinke isn’t interested in what the people want.

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Secretary Zinke made a mess of this review. He’s ignored the people most affected by monument status, insulted those who offered public comment, and failed to provide justification for the reductions he will certainly propose. There’s almost no substance here, and even less regard for the American public whose national treasures are at risk of being diminished by someone so disinterested in the mechanics of his job that he couldn’t even be bothered to show his work.

Attaboy, Zinke.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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