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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo chastised the Voice of America for its “wokeness,” accusing the taxpayer-funded broadcaster of engaging in censorship similar to Big Tech’s, and called for the agency to tout American exceptionalism and democracy.
The US’ top diplomat noted during a speech to VOA staff, aired around the world in more than 40 languages, that many of them didn’t want him to speak at the agency on Monday.
“They didn’t want the voice of American diplomacy to be broadcast on the Voice of America. Think about that for just a moment. Look, we’re all parts of institutions with duties and responsibilities higher and bigger and more important than any one of us individually. But this kind of censorial instinct is dangerous. It’s morally wrong. Indeed, it’s against your statutory mandate here at VOA,” Pompeo said.
“Censorship, wokeness, political correctness, it all points in one direction – authoritarianism, cloaked as moral righteousness. It’s similar to what we’re seeing at Twitter, and Facebook, and Apple, and on too many university campuses today. It’s not who we are. It’s not who we are as Americans, and it’s not what Voice of America should be,” he continued. “It’s time that we simply put woke-ism to sleep.”
Saying there’s a “new dawn here at the Voice of America,” Pompeo encouraged the staffers to “give voice to the voiceless in the dark corners of the world.”
He said the international broadcaster’s mission is “to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.”
“That’s because expanding freedom and democracy are what America has always been about. You’re the voice of American exceptionalism. You should be proud of that,” he said.
“When the Chinese Communist Party attempted to exploit the tragic death of George Floyd to claim their authoritarian system was somehow superior to ours, I issued a statement, which read in part: ‘During the best of times, the People’s Republic of China ruthlessly imposes communism. But amid the most difficult challenge, the United States secures freedom.’ There is no moral equivalence. This is a self-evident truth,” Pompeo said.
“It is not fake news for you to broadcast that this is the greatest nation in the history of the world and the greatest nation that civilization has ever known. Indeed, I’m not saying this to ignore our faults. Indeed, just the opposite; it is to acknowledge them,” he added.
“But this isn’t the Vice of America, focusing on everything that’s wrong with our great nation. It’s the Voice of America. It certainly isn’t the place to give authoritarian regimes in Beijing or Tehran a platform,” he explained. “Your mission is to promote democracy, freedom, and American values all across the world. It’s a U.S. taxpayer-funded institution aimed squarely at that.”
Twitter suspended President Trump’s account “permanently” because of the “risk of further incitement of violence.”
Facebook also froze the president’s account indefinitely.
The suspensions follow the rampage at the US Capitol last Wednesday that was carried out by Trump supporters.
Following a “Stop the Steal” rally near the National Mall, the mob surged past Capitol Police officers and entered the building as Congress was certifying the Electoral College results for President-elect Joe Biden.
Congressional offices were trashed and rioters carted off mementos in the mayhem that left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer who died the next day from injuries received while trying to defend the building.
Pompeo also addressed concerns that the Trump administration had tried to politicize the agency by appointing Michael Pack, a conservative documentary filmmaker, to run the agency’s parent company, the US Agency for Global Media.
“This isn’t about politicizing these institutions. We’re trying to take politics out,” Pompeo said.
He said nearly 40 percent of the VOA workforce had been improperly vetted, including many with high-level security clearances, and the VOA was rubber-stamping visas for foreign nationals.
“We shouldn’t be doing that,” Pompeo said.
“The Trump administration team is working to fix these national security threats. We want to vet employees properly. We want to reorient VOA to its mission of truth and unbiased reporting. We want to depoliticize what takes place here. It’s too important for the American people and for the world. Returning this organization to its charter and its charge to spread the message of freedom, democracy, and American exceptionalism,” he said.
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