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

Obama Takes a Veiled Swipe at Trump, Islamophobia

“We betray the efforts of the past if we fail to push back against bigotry in all its forms,” he said Wednesday as he commemorated the abolition of slavery.

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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