Skip to content

Obama decries ignorant leadership, targets Donald Trump at Rutgers

Donald Trump may have made an enemy out of the world's most powerful man.

President Barack Obama’s Sunday commencement speech at Rutgers University was filled with thinly veiled shots at presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Addressing nearly 17,000 graduates before him, Obama took aim at a number of the real estate tycoon’s platforms, including the “Apprentice” star’s call to build a wall along the border with Mexico and his calls for a stop to the immigration of muslims.

“The world is more interconnected than ever before, and it’s becoming more connected everyday, and building walls won’t change that,” Obama said. “If the past two decades have taught us anything, it’s that the biggest challenges we face cannot be solved in isolation … to help ourselves, we must help others.”

Trump, who recently called his plan to halt Muslim immigration a mere “suggestion,” has faced harsh criticism from many liberals -- and many moderates -- for his statements, including some previous censures at the hands of the president, himself.

This time, the president’s criticism were largely leveled at Trump’s policies, which the Commander-in-Chief considered anti-American.

“Isolating and disparaging Muslims, suggesting that they should be treated differently when it comes to entering this country, that is not just a betrayal of our values,” Obama said. “It would alienate the very communities -- at home and abroad -- that are our most important partners in the fight against violent extremism.”

The comments came shortly after the President praised the diversity of his host university.

The President also took aim at the Trump’s apparent difficulties with telling the truth.

“Facts, evidence, reason, logic, an understanding of science. These are good things. These are qualities you want in people making policy, these are qualities you want in yourselves as citizens,” Obama said. “In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue. It’s not cool to not know what you’re talking about … that’s not challenging political correctness.”

Politifact, a Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking service, has rated more than three-quarters of Trump’s checked statements some degree of false. Twenty-six of his statements -- roughly 18 percent -- have been given the site’s worst rating of “Pants on fire.”

Only three of Trump’s statements have been rated true.

“When our leaders express a disdain for facts, when they are not held accountable for repeating falsehoods and just making stuff up, and actual experts are dismissed as elitists, then we’ve got a problem,” Obama said.

Nikita Biryukov is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies. He is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @nikitabiryukov_ for more.