Obama Takes a Veiled Swipe at Trump, Islamophobia

Obama spoke during a commemoration ceremony for the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution Wednesday. Obama spoke during a commemoration ceremony for the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution Wednesday. Andrew Harnik/AP

For once this week, the name Don­ald Trump didn’t come up. But it was clear who Pres­id­ent Obama was talk­ing about.

Ad­van­cing the coun­try’s ideals, he said Wed­nes­day, re­quires Amer­ic­ans “to re­mem­ber that our free­dom is bound up with the free­dom of oth­ers. Re­gard­less of what they looked like or where they come from or what their last name is,” he said, speak­ing slowly and clearly, “or what faith they prac­tice.”

The pres­id­ent’s re­marks—dur­ing an event in the Cap­it­ol com­mem­or­at­ing the Thir­teenth Amend­ment, which ab­ol­ished slavery in the United States—didn’t get in­to spe­cif­ics. But his overt em­phas­is on us­ing the les­sons of the past to guide the coun­try’s ac­tions today made it ap­par­ent he was re­buk­ing Don­ald Trump, who on Monday un­veiled a plan that would ban all Muslims from en­ter­ing the United States “un­til our coun­try’s rep­res­ent­at­ives can fig­ure out what is go­ing on.” Though the pro­pos­al has been roundly lam­basted, the grow­ing tide of anti-Muslim sen­ti­ment around the coun­try—epi­tom­ized most re­cently by the pig’s head that was left Monday at the door of a Phil­adelphia mosque—has caused the White House and oth­ers con­cern.

That was clear in his speech, as Obama called on the Amer­ic­an pub­lic not to suc­cumb to cyn­icism and fear.

“We con­demn ourselves to shackles once more if we fail to an­swer those who won­der if they are true equals in their com­munit­ies or in their justice sys­tems or in a job in­ter­view,” he said. “We be­tray the ef­forts of the past if we fail to push back against bigotry in all of its forms.”

On Tues­day, White House press sec­ret­ary Josh Earn­est took Trump to task for his anti-Muslim pro­pos­al.

““The Trump cam­paign, for months now, has had a dust­bin-of-his­tory-like qual­ity to it,” Earn­est told re­port­ers. “From the vacu­ous slo­gan­eer­ing to the out­right lies to even the fake hair, the whole car­ni­val-bark­er routine that we’ve seen for some time now.”

Though the pres­id­ent’s re­marks were much more dig­ni­fied, the mes­sage to the Amer­ic­an people was the same: Rise above Trump.

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