On Friday, the Barack Obama we know and love stepped back into the ring and delivered a fiery speech aimed at Trump and his administration.
While delivering a speech at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Obama criticized the political tactics of fear and resentment, but also argued Trump was “a symptom, not the cause.”
“It did not start with Donald Trump,” he said. “He’s just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years, a fear and anger that’s rooted in our past, but it’s also born out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes.”
Obama also called out Republicans for using coded racial language and fear-mongering to deceive people into thinking we are living in a time more dangerous than it statistically is.
“Even though your generation is the most diverse in history with a greater acceptance and celebration of our differences than ever before, those are the kinds of conditions that are ripe for exploitation by politicians who have no compunction and no shame about tapping into America’s dark history of racial and ethnic and religious division. Appealing to tribe, appealing to fear, pitting one group against another, telling people that order and security will be restored if it weren’t for those who don’t look like us or don’t sound like us or don’t pray like we do, that’s an old playbook,” he said.
To bring his speech home, Obama called on people, regardless of party affiliation, to be properly offended by the rise of white supremacy.
“We’re supposed to stand up to discrimination, and we’re sure as heck supposed to stand up clearly and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers,” Obama said. “How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad?”
“You can be the generation that at a critical moment stood up and reminded us just how precious this experiment in democracy really is, just how powerful it can be when we fight for it, when we believe in it. I believe in you. I believe you will help lead us in the right direction, and I will be right there with you every step of the way. Thank you, Illinois. God bless you. God bless this country we love.”