Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

Engel, Tri-Caucus Chairs Demand Answers on State Department Policy on Hate Speech

Sep 13, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Today, Rep. Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Rep. Judy Chu, Chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus; Reps. Karen Bass and Marc Veasey, Co-Chairs of the Congressional Black Caucus Foreign Affairs and National Security Task Force; Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus; and Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, decried disturbing reports detailing the Administration’s policy to refrain from condemning hate speech in the international community. Recent reporting revealed that State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration Andrew Veprek disputed the idea that leaders have a “duty to condemn hate speech or incitement.” In a letter, the Members expressed outrage and demanded an explanation of this position.

“This is dangerous policy. The United States Holocaust Museum notes that genocide is often preceded and accompanied by widespread hate speech. Ensuring that hate speech is condemned is not just basic decency—it’s also a tool for preventing atrocities. Ultimately, this latest blunder amplifies the increasingly widespread belief that some officials in the Trump administration are racist and support an anti-foreigner, anti-Muslim discriminatory agenda and further erodes our national credibility on the world stage,” the Members wrote.

Full text of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We are extremely alarmed by the Trump Administration’s policy of remaining silent in international fora about racism and xenophobia and declining to condemn hate speech and incitement. It’s outrageous that any administration, regardless of political ideology, would refuse to stand for these basic American ideals.

Documents revealed in the press show that State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration Andrew Veprek disputed the idea that leaders have a “duty to condemn hate speech or incitement” and tried to strike an entire section of a United Nations document that links fighting racism with building a diverse democratic society.

This is dangerous policy. The United States Holocaust Museum notes that genocide is often preceded and accompanied by widespread hate speech. Ensuring that hate speech is condemned is not just basic decency—it’s also a tool for preventing atrocities.  

The Trump administration’s retreat from the world has directly undermined our long held global leadership role. His racist and xenophobic policies have slammed America’s door on some of the world’s most desperate people. Ultimately, this latest blunder amplifies the increasingly widespread perception that some officials in the Trump administration are racist and support an anti-foreigner, anti-Muslim discriminatory agenda and further erodes our national credibility on the world stage.

We demand an explanation and expect that DAS Veprek will be made available to meet with our staffs to explain these baffling actions and the policies behind them. Please contact Sajit Gandhi of the Foreign Affairs Committee staff at (202) 226 8467 by the end of the week to schedule this meeting without delay.

Sincerely,

# # #