At a time when millions of people are seeking refugee status across the globe, it would be foolish to put a person with bigoted viewpoints toward many of those migrants in charge of an international group tasked with helping them. So it comes as no surprise to see the United Nations reject such a bigot.
The United States has had their nominee to the International Organization of Migration (IOM), a UN-managed billion-dollar group, confirmed to lead the institution for the past 49 years. That streak ended this week, when President Donald Trump’s preferred choice, Ken Isaacs, was rejected in favor of Portugal’s nominee, Antonio Vitorino.
One of the biggest factors leading to the end of that streak was the U.S. nominee’s many bigoted and Islamophobic posts on social media. While hundreds of thousands of Muslim migrants were fleeing their homes to safer countries over the past few years, Isaacs, who is vice president of the Christian-based Samaritan’s Purse, made many disparaging comments, condemning Islam itself as a violent faith.
“We welcome the rejection of an individual with a history of bigotry and hope this sends a message to Mr. Trump that even if Islamophobia is welcome in his administration, the international community and its institutions will not empower anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant views,” Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a statement.
Isaacs made many alarming social media posts over the past few years that led to his rejection by the UN. In one post, he stated that “Islam is 7th century violence and bullying.” In another, he demanded to see Muslims in America march against violence to prove they stood for peace.
“if Islam is peaceful religion let's see 2 million Muslims march on Nat Mall condemning jihad, terrorism & stand for USA!” he wrote in 2015.
The demand is foolish to make and requires Muslims to take ownership of extremists while simultaneously rejecting them. In reality, Muslim leaders frequently condemn acts of violence from those who espouse a radical perversion of their faith, although these condemnations are largely ignored by individuals like Isaacs.
After an attack by another extremist, a Catholic bishop had warned against tying terrorists to those who adhered the Muslim faith. Isaacs rejected that notion, tweeting to that bishop, “if you read the Quran you will know ‘this’ is exactly what the Muslim faith instructs the faithful to do.”
The American nominee also made hateful comments toward refugees in general, making it difficult for member states of the UN to support him to run an organization that’s dedicated to helping those groups of people. In 2016, Isaacs doubted that refugees would be good for the country the way they had been in the past, writing, “refugees with other worldviews won't be the same as other immigrants.” He also suggested Austria build a wall to keep migrants out.
This type of rhetoric exemplifies Isaacs’s attitudes and beliefs surrounding refugees, specifically (although not limited to) Muslims, who are seeking a better life for their families. When it comes to leading the IOM, a person who shows empathy, compassion, and dedication toward human rights ought to lead. That person is no Ken Isaacs, and the UN made the right choice in rejecting him for the role.