Michelle Obama used her final college commencement speech as first lady to take swipes at Donald Trump, telling graduates of City College of New York that “we don’t build up walls” in America.
Obama’s speech focused on the theme of diversity, arguing that generations of immigrants had served to make the U.S. “the strongest, most vibrant, most prosperous nation on the planet, right here.”
But Obama also repeatedly offered thinly-veiled criticisms oF Trump’s presidential campaign, though she didn’t identify him by name.
“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,” Obama said. “Here in America, we don’t give in to our fears. 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.” (RELATED: Michelle Obama’s High-Achieving SOTU Guest Actually Dropped Out)
Obama rattled off a list of inventions, companies, and other works created by American immigrants, from eBay and the telephone to the song “God Bless America” and the White House itself.
The crowd was clearly aware who Obama was attacking, as it burst into applause immediately when she said America doesn’t “build up walls.”
Throughout her speech, Obama frequently mentioned America’s “greatness,” a likely deliberate callback to Trump’s ubiquitous campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again.” She also criticized Trump’s bruising campaign style, which has made heavy use of ridicule and outright name-calling.
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