Why Is Ryan Zinke So Angry at a Woman For Repeating What He Once Believed about Climate Change?

It’s certainly telling that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke seems to be unable to control his temper when confronted by female activists. A year after Zinke’s embarrassing tirade directed at an indigenous female activist at the Bears Ears Monument, the Huffington Post has captured another rant, in which Zinke snaps at local protester Sallie Holmes for asking about climate change, yelling that he hopes her “child [would] have to fight for energy.”

At some level, it’s understandable that Zinke lost his cool. After all, he was in a “safe space,” something conservatives deride unless it’s a meeeting of well-heeled ideologues who share the same views, and he was probably startled to have to defend the positions he’s taken at Interior.

What’s more difficult to understand is why Zinke was upset with Holmes, given that she was articulating a viewpoint Zinke himself held before he decided to trade science for political success. Back in 2008, Zinke was telling people that climate change is a “national security issue” and in 2010, he signed a letter to President Obama calling for investment into clean energy which included this section:

Our nation’s most respected military leaders recognize that climate change is a threat multiplier for instability in the most volatile regions of the world. The climate change threat presents significant national security challenges for the United States – challenges that should be addressed today, because they will almost certainly get worse if we delay.

Perhaps it makes Secretary Zinke feel like a big man when he yells at women, or perhaps he needs these outbursts to compensate for the little nagging voice in his head that remembers he once understood the critical need to confront climate change to protect our national security interests.

Either way, his misogynistic conduct is unbecoming a Cabinet officer, and Zinke should apologize to Ms. Holmes for his behavior.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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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