First lady delivers withering attack on Trump, without mentioning him by name, in soaring final commencement speech as first lady to City College of New York
Michelle Obama has delivered a withering attack on Donald Trump, warning a graduating class of New York students, and through them America, that those who seek to rule by intimidation and fear end up diminishing the hope and freedom of their nations.
Without mentioning the presumptive Republican presidential candidate by name, the first lady made one of the most sustained and potent attacks on Trump since he began his bid for the White House last year. She portrayed his brand of politics as un-American and dangerous, comparing him to world leaders who stifle the voices and dismiss the potential of their citizens who demonise and dehumanise entire groups of people because they have nothing else to offer.
Addressing the class of 2016 at the City College of New York in her 23rd and final commencement speech as first lady, she said: Graduates, that is not who we are. That is not what this country stands for.
She went on: Here in America we dont let our differences tear us apart. Here in America we dont give in to our fears, we dont build walls to keep people out.
She alluded to those who tell us to be afraid of those who are different, to be suspicious of those with whom we disagree. They act as if name-calling is an acceptable substitute for thoughtful debate, as though anger and intolerance should be our default rather than optimism and openness that have always been the engine of our progress.
Obamas speech, possibly the last major public statement she will make as first lady, was a tour de force of a form of quiet political activism that she has made her own, almost without anybody noticing. At a time of unparalleled bitter partisanship in American politics, Obama has managed to pull off the seemingly impossible: while her husband has become a hate figure for the right and a subject of sustained racially tinted trolling, she has managed to keep above the fray while continuing to be a powerful advocate for greater racial tolerance.
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