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Woke U.S Diplomacy: Not 100% Popular Around the Globe, nor at Home

The Biden administration is fraying relations with some allies and generating pushback from Congress by spending millions of taxpayer dollars to promote the woke ideology abroad that has stirred controversy at home since President Biden took office.  

In a “national security memorandum” shortly after his swearing-in, Biden ordered all federal agencies with dealings abroad not only to protect LGBT rights in the face of discrimination and violence but to actively advance them. His State Department has said one of its goals is to “embed intersectional equity principles into diversifying public diplomacy and communications strategies” in relations with other nations. 

U.S. ambassadors around the world have translated those words into action, championing LGTB rights in countries that oppose them; funding performances that feature drag queens; and holding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) seminars. 

The State Department would not provide a list of initiatives and programs connected to these goals or how much money it is spending. Recent reports estimate nearly $5 million has been spent abroad on LGBT programs alone, and U.S. senators including Republican J.D. Vance of Ohio are holding up appointments of new ambassadors over concerns about exporting “woke” ideology. 

Vance criticized what he called the “injecting” of “personal politics” into the U.S. foreign service, saying: “You can call it ‘extreme left,’ ‘woke.’ To me it’s leaning toward cultural progressivism in a way that alienates half of our country and, frankly, it probably alienates about 80 percent of the countries these guys are going to represent us in front of.” 

American LGBT and black advocacy groups concerned with foreign policy and diplomacy declined to respond to RealClearInvestigations’ inquiries about the State Department programs. The groups are Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA) and the Thursday Luncheon Group, which was founded “to increase the participation of African Americans in the formulation, articulation, and implementation of United States foreign policy.”  

Among the State Department initiatives are a $10,000 grant to a Portuguese LGBT activist group to finance a film festival featuring drag performances, incest, and pederasty. It also provided $20,000 to support a series of drag shows in Ecuador.  

A $300,000 State Department grant to Botswana aimed “to promote greater social acceptance of LGBTQI+ persons, including among influential religious groups and traditional groups” who preach or teach that homosexuality is immoral: Roman Catholics, most evangelical Christians, Muslims, and Orthodox Jews. Earlier this year, Republican scrutiny pressured the State Department to cancel drag shows it had been hosting on U.S. military bases.

Conservative governments, including those of predominantly Muslim nations, are similarly negative. Kuwait, for example, sharply criticized the acting chargé d’affaires of the U.S. embassy for promoting Pride month in June via official channels on Twitter.

In an official statement, Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed to the U.S. “the need for the embassy to respect the laws and regulations in force in the State of Kuwait,” where public morality laws ban same-sex sexual activity. 

In Hungary, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó clashed with U.S. Ambassador David Pressman, who is openly gay and publicly criticized the Hungarian government over LGBT issues. “[I]f he wishes to use his stay in Hungary to criticize the actions of a government elected by a clear majority of the Hungarian people and legitimized by the Hungarian people,” the foreign minister said, “he will have a very difficult job in working effectively to improve cooperation between the two countries.” 

Elsewhere, the U.S. ambassador to Poland, Mark Brzezinski, and some 30 staffers participated in Warsaw’s Pride parade, despite Poland’s constitutional ban on both same-sex marriage and civil unions. In South Korea, where same-sex marriage is illegal, the U.S. Ambassador, Philip S. Goldberg, promoted Pride month and spoke at a “Queer Culture” event in Seoul.  

The U.S. embassy to the Holy See posted its Pride flag on social media, disregarding the Catholic Church’s longstanding position against homosexuality. Criticized for, in the words of Republican Rep. Warren Davidson of Ohio, “flying flags that are hostile to the doctrine of the Catholic Church,” Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the State Department’s top DEI officer, defended the decision, saying the embassy did not need to coordinate with or seek the Vatican’s permission: “We are a sovereign nation and we make our own decisions.” 

According to a tally by RealClearInvestigations, 118 U.S. embassies tweeted or retweeted posts celebrating Pride Month in June.

But the promotion of LGBT ideology is only one part of the State Department’s broader push for DEI abroad. When State Department DEI officers managed a Pride event at the U.S. embassy in Trinidad and Tobago, Ambassador Candace Bond said one of the conference’s goals was to establish “an inclusive DEI framework within their [Trinidad’s] organizations.” To that end, the State Department funded a three-day DEI training program. 

In Kuwait, the American Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. embassy hosted a “Diversity & Inclusion Diwaniya,” a Middle Eastern term for a business gathering. The U.S. embassy to the Netherlands signed a charter formalizing a DEI council. Ambassador Razdan Duggal said, “The U.S. State Department officially supports the creation of DEIA Councils at its diplomatic posts abroad.” 

The State Department’s DEI emphasis extends far beyond just events hosted and charters signed. Last year, the department announced it was completely reorganizing its hiring process for foreign service officers, deemphasizing a key test on written and language skills as well as world history and U.S. history.

Eric Rubin, president of the American Foreign Service Association, blasted the decision, saying it would politicize the hiring process and “risks being seen as excessively subjective and subject to partisan influence.” 

Republican Rep. Alex Mooney of West Virginia concurred, telling RealClear, “Taxpayer dollars should not be spent promoting woke cultural Marxist ideology in the United States or abroad.” 


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