Weeks after the Interior Department halted diversity training to comply with an executive order from President Trump, a top assistant at the agency is under scrutiny for defending Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager accused of fatally shooting two people and injuring a third during a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wis.
The official, Jeremy Carl, a newly appointed deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks, also called peaceful Black Lives Matter protests racist and cited an opinion piece in a white supremacist publication, American Renaissance, to support an argument denouncing the anti-discrimination work of former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr.
American Renaissance, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “has been one of the vilest white nationalist publications, often promoting eugenics and blatant anti-black and anti-Latino racists.” Featured on the publication’s website are articles such as “Twelve Steps to White Recovery: Recovery from white conditioning” and “The Dangers of Diversity: What happens when races mix.”
Carl’s past writings and links were brought to light by HuffPost. Media Matters, which monitors news for misinformation, uncovered the link to American Renaissance in an opinion Carl wrote for the Fox News website.
Attempts to reach Carl were unsuccessful, and officials at the Interior Department declined to say whether any disciplinary action has been considered or taken by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt since his deputy’s actions came under scrutiny. Interior, where racial representation ranks among the lowest in the federal workplace, ended diversity classes in September.
Carl’s conservative writings aren’t the first to be denounced as racially bigoted at the department. Former Bureau of Land Management acting director William Perry Pendley once mused that federal treaty obligations to Native American tribes could end because Indians will cease to exist.
“The day may soon come when Congress and the Supreme Court will be asked to take a serious and very hard look at whether there remains a need for the federal government’s policy of paternalistic protection,” Pendley wrote. He added: “The day may come sooner than many expect given that, with ever-declining blood quantum per tribal member, recognized tribes may soon be little more than associations of financial convenience.”
Pendley was forced to step down as acting director in September when a court found that he had served for more than a year without Senate approval, violating the Constitution. Carl, a former research fellow at the conservative Claremont Institute and Hoover Institution, was appointed to his post the following month.
When Carl joined Interior in early October, he stepped into one of the least diverse agencies in the federal workplace. Black representation on its executive staff ranked last, 5.6 percent compared to 38 percent in Education and Housing and Urban Development.
Twenty-eight members of Congress signed a letter denouncing the comments. Zinke’s spokeswoman at the time denied that he made them. Zinke was forced to resign for other reasons at the end of that year.
“These comments are particularly troubling, because, as the Secretary of the Interior, it is important that you set the tone that diverse voices are critical to the success of DOI,” the letter said. “As a public official, you have a responsibility to ensure that both your agency and the public lands it administers are welcoming and inclusive to all people.”
As assistant deputy secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, Carl oversees the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is led by an African American woman, Aurelia Skipwith, for the first time in its history.
In his opinion condemning Holder, Carl included a link to a January 2015 book review written by Jared Taylor, a leading figure in the alt-right movement who said immigration policy should be tailored to keep the country majority-White.
Taylor once wrote, after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005: “When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western Civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears.”
Like Pendley, Carl ripped Black Lives Matter as a group built on what he believes is a lie that African Americans are disenfranchised.
In his opinion piece denouncing nonviolent protests patterned after the marches of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Carl called their message “slanderous and damaging to our social fabric. The protesters in the streets pretending that there is an epidemic of disproportionate police violence against African Americans are a problem when the data says it is either modest or nonexistent.”
A Washington Post analysis of fatal police shootings between 2015 and 2020 found that the opposite is true. Although half of the people shot and killed by police are White, African Americans are shot and killed at a disproportionate rate.
African Americans constitute about 13 percent of the U.S. population but are killed by police at more than twice the rate of White Americans, 32 per million compared to 13. Latino Americans are also slain by police at a disproportionately higher rate, the analysis found.
Based on his Twitter feed, Carl was agreeable to civilians armed with automatic weapons facing off against unarmed non-violent demonstrators. Carl has locked his Twitter account and viewing it requires his approval, but The Post uncovered several tweets through an archive search.
A day after Rittenhouse opened fire on protesters in Kenosha on Aug. 25, Carl retweeted a video featuring men carrying deadly AR-15 rifles with the caption: “with law enforcement incapable of defending private property … Armed groups have begun protecting the city.”
The Sierra Club is one of several groups that condemned Carl’s writings and his appointment to a key position at Interior despite them.
“That the Trump administration would hire someone to a high position who is associated with white nationalism is shameful, but sadly unsurprising,” said Athan Manuel, director of Sierra Club’s land protection program. “Racism has no place on our public lands, and it has no place atop the Department of the Interior.”