By Aaron Strain / Web Master
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke about the State Department’s mission to protect unalienable rights during the September 6 Landon Lecture Series at Kansas State University.
Pompeo, a former U.S. representative from Kansas, mentioned the state’s historical leadership against slavery as an example of emboldening rights written in the Declaration of Independence and spoke about his current work in the White House.
During the time of “Bleeding Kansas” Pompeo said, “pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers alike were flooding in, and often, violently clashing. This brewing fight over slavery was, in essence, a fight over unalienable rights.”
The Secretary spoke about his current job promoting human rights through American foreign policy. “We abhor violations of these rights, whenever and wherever they are committed,” he said. “That’s why I always speak out on behalf of the people of Iran, of Venezuela, of China, and people of all other nationalities.”
Absent from his list of specific human rights violators were U.S. allies. For example, Saudi Arabia, whose monarchical government regularly commits atrocities against its people and neighboring countries, remains a staunch ally of the U.S. in the Trump era.
“We owe it to all Americans to uphold this noble tradition of American leadership to secure rights, at home and abroad,” Pompeo said.
The audience then challenged Pompeo’s assertion of the administration’s primary focus to “promote and foster human rights around the world.”
A student said that before the speech began, “a lone woman holding a sign expressing displeasure with her government” was harassed by Pompeo’s security detail and told to stay sitting and quiet.
Pompeo said, “I did not see that particular situation, so I’ll reserve comment. I have not been sheltered from protest. I’m pretty sure I know exactly what people think of our policies – good and bad.”
He said that speaking against the actions of government officials was an essential right. He mentioned he has dealt with loud protestors in south-central Kansas and around the world. He called them, “people I find abhorrent – and their views abhorrent – and yet they’re welcome to speak loudly – and I do hope they do that every place we go.”
Another student, Cora Farley, said, “you talk so strongly about the unalienable rights that America wants to uphold, not only here in the States but also throughout the entire world, and yet the Trump administration very strongly opposes people coming here in search of those rights and being able to pursue happiness in countries where they may be safe.”
Pompeo responded, “that’s fundamentally not true.” He said that when he was in Congress, his office would “receive calls almost every day from someone from Africa, Europe, or Asia who want to become an American, and we send them the paperwork. … We need a system that welcomes people to come to our country in a way that is lawful and respectful of their human dignity, and it’s what President Trump is aiming to achieve.”