Mike Pompeo On Our Unalienable Rights
Mike Pompeo On Our Unalienable Rights
One year ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the Commission on Unalienable Rights. Yesterday, at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Secretary Pompeo announced the findings of the Commission. I strongly encourage you to watch the video and to read the full transcript of his remarks. The usual suspects, the New York Times and Mother Jones, cast their jaundiced eyes and screwed up their mouths at the report.
Why did Secretary Pompeo deem it necessary to have a Commission on Unalienable Rights? The answer, according to the State Department:
The commission, composed of academics, philosophers, and activists, will provide the Secretary with advice on human rights grounded in our nation’s founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Given it’s been more than 200 years since our founding documents were written, it seems a recollection of our purpose might be in order. The New York Times gripes:
Human rights scholars have criticized Mr. Pompeo’s panel since its inception, noting it was filled with conservatives who were intent on promoting views against abortion and marriage equality. Critics also warned that it sidestepped the State Department’s internal bureau responsible for promoting human rights abroad.
If you read the member biographies, you will find a fairly diverse group. Although not a member of the Commission, Cass Sunstein, husband of Obama’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Powers, gave testimony. Sunstein is not exactly a right-wing nut job.
Like President Donald Trump, there is nothing Mike Pompeo could do or say that would win the approval of the Left. Well, maybe he could join Antifa and Black Lives Matters.
So here is the video of Mike Pompeo’s remarks. It should be used in every Civics class in America. That is if they still taught Civics, which, of course, they do not.
We forget how forward thinking the Founding Fathers were. They acknowledged man’s failings and bigotry, but hoped for better. This portion of Mike Pompeo’s speech is soaring:
No one can enjoy the pursuit of happiness if you cannot own the fruits of your own labor and no society can retain its legitimacy or a virtuous character without religious freedom. Our founders knew that faith was also essential to nurture the private virtue of our citizens and the report speaks to that. In his now famous letter from 1790, a letter to the Jews of Newport, George Washington proudly noted that, “The United States gives to bigotry, no sanction ,to persecution, no assistance.” Our founders also knew the fallen nature of mankind. Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 10, “Men are ambitious, vindictive, rapacious.” So in their wisdom, they established a system that acknowledged our human failings, checked our worst instincts and ensure the government wouldn’t trample-
I have been to Touro Synagogue, which was founded in 1677. Think about the fact that it was 113 years old when President Washington wrote to the community. And, Alexander Hamilton had never met Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer when he wrote Federalist 10.
Mike Pompeo and the Commission focused on basic human rights. Not all of these expanded rights, most notably expressed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his Four Freedoms speech, which added Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear to our basic rights.
Mother Jones was not amused:
t didn’t take long for human rights experts to read between the lines. Pompeo, whose leadership of the State Department has become in many ways an experiment in how quickly he can orient American foreign policy toward his evangelical Christian faith, stocked the commission with academics and diplomats best known for defending religious freedom while opposing reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality.
And then, there is the concept of competing rights, as Mother Jones reports:
The problem, as the commissioners see it, is that a proliferation of new rights include many in competition with one another, which has eroded the international consensus around human rights. The solution, then, is to boost protections of certain rights, particularly religious freedom, while diminishing others.
What competing rights? Universal healthcare which is laudable but unaffordable. Or, abortion as a reproductive right? Where in the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can we support abortion. What about hate crimes? Is charging people with hate crimes, and not just crimes, in conflict with the idea of unalienable rights. A crime is a crime is a crime. From a philosophical perspective, these are questions we need to ask.
The Unalienable Rights Commission is an idea long overdue. It is a national conversation we should all be having.
Featured Image: Mike Pompeo Official Government Portrait/Public Domain