Indian-American diplomat quits over Trump policies

Indian-American diplomat quits over Trump policies

Uzra Zeya

A senior Indian-American diplomat has quit from the foreign service in protest against what she alleged are racist and sexist policies of President Donald Trump.

"Up to now, Foggy Bottom's (State Department) upper echelons are looking whiter, more male and less like America," Indian-American diplomat Uzra Zeya wrote in Politico, alleging that the State Department under the Trump administration is facing racial and gender bias.

As Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Paris, Zeya played a key role in Trump's successful visit there.

Zeya is currently a senior fellow at the Centre for American Progress. She previously served as acting assistant secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour.

"In my own case, I hit the buzz saw that Team Trump wielded against career professionals after leading the US Embassy in Paris through three major terrorist attacks over three years and after planning President Trump's Bastille Day visit," she wrote.

"Upon returning to Washington, as accolades for the president's visit poured in, I was blocked from a series of senior-level jobs, with no explanation. In two separate incidents, however, colleagues told me that a senior State official opposed candidates for leadership positions — myself and an African-American female officer — on the basis that we would not pass the 'Breitbart test'," she wrote.

"One year into an administration that repudiated the very notion of America I had defended abroad for 27 years, I knew I could no longer be a part of it, and I left government earlier this year," Zeya said.

In the lengthy article, she described in detail the racial and gender bias that has crept into the State Department over the last 18 months under the Trump administration.

"If the State Department is not going to acknowledge this problem, Congress should insist on a serious commitment to diversity in American diplomacy from Secretary Mike Pompeo — by demanding answers for the slide in minority and female senior representation at State, accountability if any officials have violated equal opportunity laws, prohibitions on political retaliation and protections for employees who report wrongdoing," Zeya said.

No one should harbour illusions, however, that a president who relies on "central casting" to make hiring decisions and routinely disparages African-Americans, Muslims, women and immigrants, would champion those who don't resemble him, she said.

"The most meaningful step toward rebuilding a State Department that looks like America is electing a president who cherishes our legacy as a nation of immigrants and diversity as one of many strengths that make our diplomatic corps - and America as a whole - truly great," Zeya wrote.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox