Acclaimed director-producer Steven Spielberg delivered a jocular commencement speech to Harvard University’s Class of 2016 Thursday and lobbed a thinly veiled attack at presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump over his call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States.
The Jurassic Park director urged the crowd of graduates to appreciate the past–“to look behind them” at the history of America and those who fled genocide and mass-misfortune for freedom in America.
“We are a nation of immigrants … at least for now,” Spielberg said to laughter and applause.
Spielberg, whose Shoah Foundation has documented the experiences of 53,000 Holocaust survivors, later commanded the crowd to reject nationalist impulses. “I don’t have to tell a crowd of Red Sox fans that we are wired for tribalism. Instinctively, and maybe even genetically, we divide the world into us and them.”
The three-time Oscar-winning filmmaker and longtime financial supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s political campaigns told the crowd to be heroes and to find “a villain to vanquish.”
“And you’re all in luck. This world is full of monsters,” Spielberg said. “And there’s racism, homophobia, ethnic hatred, class hatred, there’s political hatred, and religious hatred.”
His speech becoming more politically pointed, Spielberg said, “There’s still so much work to be done. Islamophobia is on the rise because there’s no difference between anyone who is discriminated against. Whether it’s the Muslims, or the Jews, or minorities on the border states, or the LGBT community, it is all one big hate.”
He advised the crowd of graduates and alumni to be activists for change by voting, telling them to “peaceably protest.”
“I hope you outrun the T. Rex, catch the criminal, and, for your parents’ sake, just like E.T., every now and again, ‘Go home!'” Spielberg concluded.