Pompeo Argues Some Human Rights Aren’t ‘Worth Defending’

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo participates in a press briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on January 10, 2020. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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July 17, 2020 12:24 p.m.

The number of human rights is getting excessive, according Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

As he was unveiling a report by his Commission on Unalienable Rights on Thursday, Pompeo stated that the U.S. is “forced to grapple with the tough choices about which rights to promote.”

“Americans have not only unalienable rights, but also positive rights, rights granted by governments, courts, multilateral bodies. Many are worth defending in light of our founding; others aren’t,” he asserted.

And even within the narrow scope of whatever rights the Trump administration official deems to be worth shielding, some are apparently less important than others.

“Prioritizing which rights to defend is also hard,” he said.

Yet Pompeo highlighted how the commission’s report “emphasizes” that “foremost among these rights are property rights and religious liberty.”

“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,” the Trump official argued.

He described the report as a guide that “helps us to judge” how other countries violate human rights “that we care most about.”

“More rights does not necessarily mean more justice,” said Pompeo.

Although the secretary did not specify which rights he believed to be superfluous, his “religious liberty” dogwhistle combined with his hardline opposition to abortion and LGBTQ rights further bolster concerns that Pompeo’s purpose behind assembling the “Unalienable Rights” panel was to pursue an anti-abortion and LGBTQ agenda in U.S. foreign policy.

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