Delivering the commencement speech at Rutgers University, President Barack Obama stayed true to recent form and did not hold back when attacking the Republican party and its presumptive nominee Donald Trump. In short, the president blasted the willful ignorance and pride implied in nearly every Trump proposal but most especially, Obama took aim at the fear behind such isolationist tendencies as wall building:
‘Class of 2016, let me be as clear as I can be. In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue. It’s not cool to not know what you’re talking about. That’s not keeping it real or telling like it is. That’s not challenging political correctness. That’s not knowing what you’re talking about.’
In his own carefully measured way, Obama showed exactly what a powerful tools intelligence and rhetoric can be when they’re not crippled by extreme ignorance:
‘Change has been a constant in our history, and the reason America is better is because we didn’t look backwards. We didn’t fear the future. We seized the future and made it our own. And that’s exactly why it has always been young people like you who have brought about big change because you don’t fear the future.’
The president also used the occasion to remind the graduating class that the policies of Trump and those like him are by definition backwards-looking, relying on a romanticized version of the past that never really existed in the first place:
‘That leads me to my second point. The world is becoming more interconnected than ever before, and it is becoming more connected every day. Building walls won’t change that. Look, as president, my first responsibility is always the security and prosperity of the United States. As citizens, we all rightly put our country first. But if the past two decades taught us anything, it is that the biggest challenge we face cannot be solved in isolation.’
According to Obama, diplomacy and interconnectedness are the point and those are also the things in the end that will keep American both safe and great:
‘When overseas states start falling apart, they become breeding grounds for terrorists and ideologies of nihilism and despair that ultimately can reach our shores. When developing countries don’t have functioning health systems, epidemics like Zika or Ebola can spread and threaten Americans too, and a wall won’t stop that.’
The video below is synced to Obama’s comments about Trump and the Republican party, but the whole speech really is an impressive, impassioned display.
Featured Image via YouTube screengrab.