Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argues that censorship on U.S. campuses is one of his biggest concerns, posing more of an imminent risk than international threats.
In an interview set to air Sunday with radio host John Catsimatidis on The Cat's Roundtable on WABC 770 AM-N.Y., Pompeo called out efforts to silence unpopular points of view.
"The fact that we now are accusing people who are just saying things that are common sense about how to treat everybody equally and fairly have been accused of being racist," Pompeo said, according to The Hill, which aired the remarks ahead of the show’s airing.
"Those are dangerous things in a democracy,” he said, adding: "They pose a staggering risk."
Pompeo did not cite specific examples of such censorship in the interview.
But in April, a free-speech group Speech First sued Virginia Tech University in federal court alleging the university's policies stifle students' expression of right-wing views on campus.
And last month, the University of Miami’s board of trustees announced a move aimed at "reaffirming our commitment to belonging and justice by recognizing those who overcame racism."
Among the moves is dropping university founder George E. Merrick's surname from a structure on Merrick Drive in order to "adopt a neutral directional name."
"As the founder of the University, we have much to be thankful ... to George E. Merrick, yet we understand that for some members of our community, the name on this garage is a reminder of the harm caused by segregation," the executive committee of the board wrote in a statement. "Therefore, we will adopt a neutral directional name for that structure on the Coral Gables Campus."
Critics and detractors of Merrick pointed out he made racist remarks and advocated for racist policies throughout his career.
“I get asked all the time what keeps you up at night," said Pompeo, who in the Trump administration dealt with issues involving Iran, North Korea and the Taliban.
“None of that scares me as much as what’s happening in our universities and on our campuses today," he said.
Pompeo has previously spoken against "left-leaning" institutions being targeted by the Chinese Community Party, warning about Chinese security services attempting to recruit Chinese students and academics as spies.
“American students talk about safe spaces, a shelter from ideas they dislike. Chinese students need safe spaces to learn the ideas that they love. What a stark contrast,” Pompeo said in December 2020, The Hill reported at the time.
“Look, they know that left-leaning college campuses are rife with anti-Americanism and present easy targets for their anti-American messaging.”
In his Sunday interview, Pompeo called it crucial to push back against what he portrayed as threats to freedom of speech, arguing the United States' status as a world leader is at risk unless America addresses the issue.
"If America is weak at home, our capacity to influence the world is diminished," he said, The Hill reported.
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