President Obama’s speech in Congress today was supposed to recognize the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment banning slavery.
However, he appeared to distract from the historic nature of the moment by alluding heavily to a controversy over restricting Muslims from entering the country.
Obama recalled the horrors of slavery and praised the activists who worked so hard to prick the national conscience on the issue, leading to the passage of the 13th Amendment. He warned that Americans must continue to stand vigilant against the same cynicism and fear that led to slavery and racism.
“We betray the efforts of the past if we fail to push back against bigotry in all its forms,” he said.
Obama insists racial discrimination still exists in the United States, citing inequality in communities around the country, racial prejudice in job interviews and the in the national justice system.
“We would do a disservice to those warriors of justice … were we to deny that the scars of our nation’s original sin are still with us today,” he said.
He called for all Americans to fight discrimination and cynicism “no matter what ugliness may bubble up” in society today.
“Remember that our freedom is bound up with the freedom of others, regardless of what they look like – or what faith they practice,” he said.
Obama received that loudest applause and even cheers for that line, as members of Congress recognized his line as a clear condemnation of Donald Trump.