Americans United joined allies this week in urging U.S. senators to oppose the confirmation of Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State. Pompeo’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. EDT Thursday.
With his record of anti-Muslim rhetoric and hostility toward the LGBTQ community, women, refugees and others, Pompeo is a poor candidate to represent to the world American ideals of religious freedom and equality.
Concerns about Pompeo’s anti-Muslim views and how they would impact U.S. foreign policy were raised shortly after President Donald Trump was elected and named Pompeo to be his CIA director. Marwan Muasher, a former Jordanian ambassador to the United States who now oversees research into the Middle East for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank, in Nov. 2016 voiced his concerns about Pompeo and two other Trump national security nominees.
“While the region has the same commitment to fight terrorism, it needs a nuanced view of Islam and of Muslims, rather than treating all Muslims with a broad brush,” Muasher told The Washington Post. “The cause of fighting terrorism will not be helped if the new administration treats the Muslim world as a problem rather than as part of the solution.”
But Pompeo hasn’t demonstrated a “nuanced view.” He has maintained close ties with anti-Muslim groups and individuals that propagate conspiracy theories about Islam, including ACT for America, considered to be the country’s largest anti-Muslim hate group.
Pompeo has a troubling history of equating terrorists with Muslims and has portrayed the fight against terrorism as a war for Christian supremacy. “They abhor Christians,” he said to a Wichita, Kan., church group in 2014. He added that, to fight terrorism, “(We must) make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ is our savior is truly the only solution for our world.”
Before he was appointed CIA director, Pompeo served three terms in the U.S. House representing Kansas. During his first congressional campaign in 2010, his opponent was an American-born citizen of Indian descent. Pompeo’s campaign shared an article full of slurs, labeling the man a “turban topper” who “could be a muslim, a hindu, a buddhist etc who knows.” Pompeo also failed to condemn xenophobic billboards posted by a supporter that implied the opponent was not a citizen and that “True Americans Vote For Pompeo.”
Following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, Pompeo claimed that American Muslim groups were “potentially complicit” for not adequately denouncing the attack, a dangerous and inaccurate claim because the American Muslim community was unequivocal in its condemnation. Pompeo similarly called out a Wichita mosque in 2016 for not posting an online condemnation of a foreign terrorist attack.
As a congressman, Pompeo also repeatedly debased the humanity of LGBTQ Americans – condemning U.S. Supreme Court decisions recognizing the rights of same-sexual couples, opposing the end of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and supporting federal legislation aimed at undermining marriage equality. He has voted to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care both in the U.S. and abroad; and he has cosponsored legislation that would ban all refugees from the U.S.
That’s why Americans United has joined a broad coalition of almost 180 organizations in calling on the U.S. Senate to block his confirmation.
“Pompeo has a troubling history of statements and policy positions that have alienated marginalized communities, which raises serious doubts about his ability to represent all in America and promote human rights for all individuals abroad,” we wrote.
“The Secretary of State is one of our most important positions for promoting and protecting human rights,” the letter continued. “Pompeo’s documented anti-Muslim bias is dangerous to American foreign policy, will cripple his ability to develop essential relationships with Muslim-majority countries, and will irreparably undermine his ability to lead the State Department workforce.”
It’s bad enough that Pompeo has these views and is leading the CIA, but putting him in charge of diplomacy and promoting religious freedom and equality on an international level with the Department of State is even worse.
(Photo: Mike Pompeo, then a U.S. representative for Kansas, speaking at the 2011 Values Voter Summit. Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr)