American diplomats take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. A foreign-service officer’s job is to advance American interests. But officials are now asking diplomats to function as social-justice warriors to the detriment of the country’s image abroad, as revealed by a leaked State Department cable encouraging embassies and consulates to fly Black Lives Matter flags.
Nearly 20 years ago, when I was sworn in as a foreign-service officer by Secretary of State
he said: “The most important of all the jobs that we are sending you out to do is to take with you the value system of the American people.” BLM’s values are shared by only half the country, if that, according to a recent USA Today/Ipsos poll. Another USA Today survey indicated that only 18% of Americans and 28% of blacks support the group’s signature goal, defunding the police.
Yet from reading the State Department’s May 21 cable, you’d think the country is in lockstep agreement. The cable asserts that protests in the wake of
killing “sparked a movement to confront systems perpetuating deep-seated inequities rooted in colonialism and the oppression of racial, tribal, ethnic, and other minority communities.” It continues: “Mr. Floyd’s murder prompted an international outcry to seek racial justice and equity by dismantling systemic racism and eradicating police brutality affecting communities of color, most acutely, people of African descent.” The missive asserted that federal law allows diplomats to “engage in BLM-related activity while on duty or in the workplace” but not to combine such advocacy with “political activity.”
That’s doublespeak. BLM activity is political advocacy. The group’s co-founder
is a self-described Marxist. Until recently, BLM’s website called on “comrades” to make efforts at “dismantling cisgender privilege and heteronormative thinking” and “disrupting the Western prescribed nuclear family structure requirement.”
The site still claims that “police were born out of slave patrols” and features a list of “demands” that include defunding police, barring
from holding office or using social media, and “expelling” more than half of the Republicans in Congress for stoking “Trump’s conspiracy theories and encouraging the white supremacists to take action to overturn the election.”
The cable authorized posts to fly the BLM flag throughout 2021 at the discretion of each chief of mission. Embassies in Bosnia, Cambodia, Greece, Spain, the U.K. and perhaps elsewhere have done so. The cable also encouraged posts to “promote policy objectives to advance racial equity . . . with a particular focus on May 25”—the anniversary of Mr. Floyd’s killing—“and during June to commemorate Juneteenth and lesser-known racially motivated attacks such as the Tulsa Race Massacre.”
Americans at home should confront the dark chapters of our nation’s history. But how does spreading the word about our “lesser-known” massacres to foreign audiences advance our national interests? Embassies should be small slices of U.S. outside our shores, and diplomats ought to promote the nation’s best attributes. They can leave the job of highlighting its failures and shortcomings to adversaries like the Chinese Communist Party.
Mr. Seminara is a former diplomat and author of “Mad Travelers: A Tale of Wanderlust, Greed & the Quest to Reach the Ends of the Earth.”
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Appeared in the June 1, 2021, print edition.