New York Times reporter Pranshu Verma criticized a report issued by the Commission on Unalienable Rights, formed last year by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to conduct a review of U.S. human rights policy abroad: “Pompeo Says Human Rights Must Reflect Religion’s Role.”
But the real target was his defense of religious freedom and Christianity abroad. Pompeo’s evangelical Christianity has made him a figure of opprobrium at the paper, and the Times has hit at it full force. Even the paper’s Quote of the Day in Friday’s paper took aim: “Human rights are not a choose-your-own-adventure.” That gem comes from Tarah Demant, director of the gender, sexuality, and identity program at Amnesty International USA, rebutting Pompeo. (Demant doubtless thinks gender identity is itself a "choose your own adventure"!)
Verma, a new reporter at the paper, stacked the deck against Pompeo right off the bat.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a divisive speech on Thursday calling for the United States to ground its human rights policy more prominently in religious liberty and property rights.
Mr. Pompeo’s speech, at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, came as he announced the release of a report created by a panel he commissioned last year to suggest how American human rights policy could better reflect the “nation’s founding principles.”
“It’s important for every American, and for every American diplomat, to recognize how our founders understood unalienable rights,” Mr. Pompeo said. “Foremost among these rights are property rights and religious liberty.”
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....
Experts have said that Mr. Pompeo’s efforts to prioritize religion in particular above other ideals in American diplomacy could reverse the country’s longstanding belief that “all rights are created equal” and embolden countries that persecute same-sex couples or deny women access to reproductive health services for religious reasons.
This portion may partially explain the paper’s pique:
He specifically criticized the 1619 Project, a New York Times initiative re-examining the legacy of slavery, describing it as part of “a dark vision of America’s birth” and a “disturbed reading of our history.”
Verma pitted “conservatives” against ostensibly neutral “human rights scholars.”
But human rights scholars cautioned that this could set a global precedent for other nations to define human rights on their own terms, undermining diplomatic efforts to stop the persecution of religious minorities in places like China, or the promotion of women’s rights in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia.
“Women’s rights” in Times-speak means access to birth control and abortion. After all, the paper doesn’t care much about Iran’s recent attacks on women’s freedom of religion, and remains notoriously soft on the theocratic Islamic regime.
Verma circulated a 2002 quote from professor Mary Ann Glendon to discredit her.
He also wrote about the commission with the same biased tone before the report’s release.
The commission’s report is expected to be released in early July, and is tightly held among Mr. Pompeo’s top aides. Diplomats note the report could be a tool to advance Mr. Pompeo’s religious beliefs and political aspirations, while proving detrimental to preserving the rights of women and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people abroad.
The panel’s recommendations come as America’s commitment to human rights faces skepticism from organizations like the United Nations. The peacekeeping body issued a resolution on Friday condemning police brutality and “systemic racism” against people of African descent. Diplomats had to drop specific references to the United States to gain passage.
Again, he circulated the old Glendon quote about Osama bin Laden:
The commission is led by Ms. Glendon, a Harvard professor and former ambassador to the Vatican, who has garnered controversy for statements like The Boston Globe’s receiving the Pulitzer Prize for its investigation into child abuse by priests “would be like giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Osama bin Laden.”
If Glendon is so controversial for “statements like” this, why not show those other statements, instead of repeating the same one from 18 years ago? Or is that in fact the worst Verma could come up with?