Ryan Zinke tells his staff diversity 'isn't important anymore'


Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told his staffers that he doesn't care about diversity. His long and racist history only proves that point.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke doesn't care about diversity — and that's according to his own words.

High-ranking officials at the agency told CNN Zinke said exactly that to his subordinates: "I don't care about diversity."

"I don't really think that's important anymore," he added.

These comments come just months after an investigation detailed a systematic culture of harassment and discrimination at the Interior Department and the National Park Service. Zinke vowed to fix those serious problems, but this newly revealed attitude puts that into question.

And while such blunt language is shocking, Zinke's attitude is not. His tenure in the Trump administration has involved either dismissing or exploiting people of minority racial and cultural backgrounds.

Last year, Zinke argued that the nation should not remove monuments to Confederate white supremacists because it might offend Native Americans. Yet he has also pushed to open up sacred Navajo land to oil and gas drilling.

More recently, Zinke came under fire for sneering "Konnichiwa" at Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a Japanese-American congresswoman, after she asked him to preserve the World War II internment camps where her grandparents had been detained.

But Zinke's troubles did not begin when he took a job in Trump's administration.

In 2014, when he was running for Montana's at-large congressional seat, he accepted a $500 contribution from white supremacist leader Earl Holt. Holt led the Council of Conservative Citizens, the successor to violent segregationist "white citizens councils" of the Civil Rights era.

And while in Congress, Zinke gave an interview to an anti-immigrant hate group while promoting a bill to designate English as the country's official language.

But none of this is likely to disqualify him from working for Trump, whose attitude toward diversity is no better. Most of Trump's Cabinet is white and male, despite his strange boast about how "politically correct" it is. His nominees for federal judgeships are also noticeably lacking in diverse representation.

Ignoring diversity in positions of leadership and government can have dangerous consequences. Studies show that wider representation of race and ethnicity brings a broader range of experiences and viewpoints to the table. And this increases the likelihood that our politics and policies will more accurately represent the population as a whole.

The fact that Zinke does not know or care about this is, sadly, par for the course. And it's yet another sign that the Trump administration is stunting the nation's ability to govern.