“Woke-ism, multiculturalism, all the -isms — they’re not who America is. They distort our glorious founding and what this country is all about. Our enemies stoke these divisions because they know they make us weaker,” he wrote Tuesday.
The secretary of state’s assertion that “multiculturalism” is not part of the American ethos was swiftly denounced as a shocking and racist affront to the workforce he leads, the agency he represents and the values it is meant to espouse.
“Unconscionable,” one diplomat said.
Another diplomat asked how this is supposed to make diplomats of color, or those of non-Christian backgrounds, feel.
“We need to do a better job of representing that, not reject it,” he said.
“This is a truly unfortunate and disturbing statement for the secretary of state to make at a time when the task ahead for this country it to pull all of the diverse sectors of our country together and become the ‘United’ States once more,” said retired Amb. Charles Ray, who served 30 years in the foreign service and 20 in the US Army. “It also sends a troubling message to those countries struggling with interethnic strife and dictators who exploit the ethnic and cultural divisions within their societies.”
‘He is very clearly positioning himself’
Political strategists view Pompeo’s tweet as part of a push in his final days to appeal to the Trump faction of the GOP, with the outgoing top US diplomat speaking to a very specific group of Republicans who still support President Donald Trump, his anti-immigrant policies and his attacks on the so-called “politically correct.”
“He is very clearly positioning himself to be an inheritor of the Trump base. This is a message that precisely goes along with the things that the President has said,” said GOP strategist Douglas Heye. “When I saw this tweet I thought, well, a lot of us hoped that this administration would have stood for conservatism, but that was all thrown out the window in favor of all things Trump.”
The State Department did not respond when asked for an explanation of the tweet.
Pompeo has maintained close ties to Trump throughout a tenure marred by racist and anti-democratic actions and rhetoric. From Charlottesville to the “Muslim ban” to the siege on the Capitol, where rioters displayed White supremacist and anti-Semitic imagery, Pompeo has never accused the President of fanning the flames of dangerous division. Pompeo denounced the January 6 insurrection itself in a series of tweets, but did not acknowledge the ties between protesters’ violent actions and Trump’s incitement.
He has repeatedly attacked the “The 1619 Project,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning initiative from The New York Times Magazine “that aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”
Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of The 1619 Project, said Pompeo’s tweet proved the thesis of the project.
‘His silence is deafening’
But on the underlying issue motivating those protests, Pompeo remained largely silent. Although he called the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, “abhorrent,” he initially rebuffed suggestions from his staff that he address the department on the issue of racial inequality in the US or send messages of support and empathy to the department writ large.