In the past year there have been protests in Hong Kong that were aimed locally and at the Beijing government. There were two deaths: one of a student who fell from a high-rise car park, and one of 70 year-old man who was hit by a brick thrown by a black-clad protestor. To the disappointment and frustration of the Washington and the U.S. mainstream media, there were no other deaths, although the violence attracted extensive cover.
Commenting on the protests, U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo declared that “We have the rule of law; China does not. We have free speech and embrace peaceful protest. They don’t.”
On May 26, massive demonstrations began in the United States, following the death of a black man, George Floyd, who had been detained and treated appallingly by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the BBC noted, “Mr Floyd’s death came shortly after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Mr Arbery, 25, was shot on 23 February while jogging in Georgia, after residents said he resembled a burglary suspect. Breonna Taylor, 26, was a health worker who was shot eight times when police entered her flat in Kentucky.”
The protests gathered strength, and police reaction was merciless. According to the New York Times “President Trump delivered an ultimatum to Minneapolis protesters on May 29 and suggested that the military could use armed force to suppress riots. On Twitter, Mr. Trump called the protesters ‘thugs’ and said, ‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts’.”
Next, the Times reported that “Demonstrations continued across the United States on Sunday [June 1] as the nation braced for another gruelling night of unrest over police shootings and the death of George Floyd, amid growing concern that aggressive law enforcement tactics intended to impose order were instead inflaming tensions. Videos showed police officers in recent nights using batons, tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets on protesters, bystanders and journalists, often without warning or seemingly unprovoked. The footage, which has been shared widely online, highlighted the very complaints over police behaviour that have drawn protests in at least 75 cities across the United States.”
Then Mr Pompeo gave a media briefing about the U.S. Report on International Religious Freedom. Having finished castigating nation after nation for their behaviour, the meeting was opened to questions, whereupon a reporter inquired about the violent disturbances that had been taking place throughout the United States and asked Pompeo straightforwardly: “What is your opinion about the protests?”
The inquiry was addressed to the person who is “the highest-ranking member of the cabinet . . . the third-highest official of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States,” and it is reasonable to expect that Pompeo would have answered as befitting the holder of such a nationally important office. The world waited to hear a definitive reply to this plain, simple but most important question.
And it waited in vain, because State Department Spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus, swiftly shut things down by interjecting “That’s — that’ll be it. Thank you.” And Secretary Pompeo, the man who last year declared that “the United States is gravely concerned by the deepening political unrest and violence in Hong Kong… we call on Chief Executive Carrie Lam to promote accountability by supplementing the Independent Police Complains Council review with an independent investigation into the protest-related incidents” demonstrated his overwhelming concern about massive political unrest and police violence in America by saying “Great. Thank you all” and preventing any further questions.
On April 19 Mr Pompeo condemned the arrest in Hong Kong of 15 people accused of being leaders of the riots, tweeting that “politicised law enforcement is inconsistent with universal values of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly”, while back in his own country it was reported that “Dozens of journalists covering anti-racism protests that have rocked the U.S. have reported being targeted by security forces using tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray.”
There are many descriptions of Mr Pompeo, but the performance described above brings one in particular to mind, and that is Hypocrite.
It is not surprising that Mr Pompeo is an longtime supporter of the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where the Washington Post informs us “There are 40 detainees left… of an original total of 780. Of these, only two have been convicted by military commissions; seven others have been charged and face trial; three have been recommended for trial; and the rest have not been charged but have been deemed impossible to transfer out for security or other reasons. And so dozens of men still live in limbo.” It is difficult to believe that a democratic country such as America can deny any person’s right to justice in the classic sense of “the fair and equitable treatment of all individuals under the law.”
Last October Mr Pompeo delivered a speech to the American Association of Christian Counsellors during which he announced that “I need to be intentional – we each need to be intentional – about carving out time to pursue the mission of defending human dignity” which is an admirable sentiment — but does not in Mr Pompeo’s Book extend to defending the human dignity of those incarcerated in Guantanamo prison camp. The New York Times pointed out in April that for over fifteen years the U.S. has been holding five men suspected of planning the 9-11 terrorist attacks, but “rather than take the defendants to New York to trial after their captures in Pakistan in 2002 and 2003, the United States dispatched them to a secret network of prisons run overseas by the C.I.A.” where “Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, accused of being the architect of the attacks, was waterboarded 183 times. All five defendants were brutalized, isolated and kept incommunicado.”
Furthermore, in the Washington Post Peter Jan Honigsberg, professor of law at the University of San Francisco, wrote that “twenty-six of the 40 men remaining in the prison are considered “forever prisoners.” They cannot be tried because the evidence against them is either insufficient or unreliable — since it was obtained through torture. Yet, these men are also considered too dangerous to be released. They are likely to die in Guantanamo, never charged, never tried and never convicted.”
There is not a shred of dignity, humanity or compassion to be detected in Washington concerning this saga of savagery — and there has not been a word of concern from the warm-hearted Christian Mr Pompeo, he who announced on July 9 that he was about to release a State Department report which would be “an important restatement of how the United States thinks about human rights and our unalienable rights and our role, the United States role, in the world in preserving those rights for all people who are made in the image of God.”
But Pompeo’s notion of ‘rights’ does not extend to inclusion of the journalists beaten up and shot at with rubber bullets by U.S. police, or the “forever prisoners” who were tortured by the CIA and now exist in forever squalor in an illegal concentration camp. Pompeo’s outlook on life can be described as selective, when it comes to supporting human dignity. Or perhaps it would be more appropriate to describe his attitude as being one of chronic hypocrisy.