Written by Don Byrd

Secretary of State Nominee Mike Pompeo, currently the Director of the CIA, faced questioning from Senators last week about previous statements he has made regarding American Muslims. Of particular concern were his suggestions that Muslims in the United States were not speaking out against terrorism. As Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) pointed out (around 4:02:00), however, nothing could be further from the truth.

MARKEY: Next Monday is the fifth anniversary of the Patriots Day Marathon bombing in Boston. . . . [F]ollowing those attacks, you falsely alleged that American Muslim leaders were “potentially complicit in violent acts for failing to speak out,” even though the American Muslim community and its leaders had already condemned that attack. Because words matter, Mr. Pompeo, do you believe that your statements falsely accusing American Muslim leaders of being complicit in the Boston Marathon attacks exemplifies the kind of moral leadership that our country should have in the post of Secretary of State?

POMPEO: …It is true that many leaders spoke out about it. I’m not sure that we ever get to a point where it’s enough…

MARKEY: The Boston Muslim community came out and condemned it. Is there any way in your mind that they were complicit?

POMPEO: Senator, to the extent they condemned it, then they did what I think it was we all have a responsibility to do.

MARKEY: “to the extent which they did”? They did.

POMPEO: Senator then yes, I’m happy they did that. i think it’s a good thing.

Senator Cory Booker (R-NJ) also questioned Pompeo about these remarks (around 2:23:00). Picking up on Pompeo’s views that silence in the face of injustice is complicity, Booker noted that Pompeo declined to speak out against anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney when appearing on his radio show numerous times. Gaffney has stated that Muslims in America should be tried and prosecuted for acts of sedition, according to Booker.

BOOKER: I believe the special obligation that you talk about for Americans to condemn things that are attacking our Constitution and our ideals would obligate you on your on definition to speak out.

American Muslim leaders have been vocal and unified in condemning violence. We should all be equally vocal in speaking out against religious bigotry, and against proposals and policies that discriminate on the basis of religion.