Michelle Obama Rebukes Leaders Who Demonize People, Name-Call, Build Walls

Friday during a commencement speech at New York’s City College, without mentioning any names, first lady Michelle Obama attacked leaders who believe “name-calling is an acceptable substitute for thoughtful debate,” and “demonize and dehumanize entire groups of people.”

Obama said, “Some folks out there have a very different perspective, they seem to view our diversity as a threat to be contained rather than a resource to be tapped. They 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 if anger and intolerance should be our default state rather than the optimism and openness that have always been the engine of our progress. But graduates, I can tell you, as first lady I have had the privilege of traveling around the world and visiting dozens of different countries. I have seen what happens when ideas like these take hold. I have seen how leaders who rule by intimidation, leaders who demonize and dehumanize entire groups of people often do so because they have nothing else to offer. I have seen how places that stifle the voices and dismiss the potential of the citizens are diminished, how they are less vital, less hopeful, less free. Graduates, that is not who we are. That is not what this country stands for. ”

The first lady added, “We don’t build up walls to keep people out because we know that our greatness has always depended on contributions from people who were born elsewhere, but sought out this country and made it their home.”

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