Although it was somewhat coded, former president Barack Obama delivered an extended and vicious critique on his successor, President Donald Trump, on Tuesday in Canada. He was speaking to an audience of 6,000 fans at an event hosted by the Montreal Board of Trade. He spoke of the rise of “extreme nationalism and xenophobia” (intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries). He also addressed the politics of “us-versus-them,” which is a clear slap at the Trump agenda.
Obama said, “In times of disruption we may go backward instead of forward,” he warned. “We’re going to have to replace fear with hope.”
The former president also got a good laugh from the crowd when he dismissingly referred to the Trump administration’s embrace of “alternative facts.” Obama noted that in less than 20 weeks after he left office, America has devolved into a place “where we don’t just have disagreements based on our opinions, but now people are just disagreeing with facts. And we’re in an environment where we are only accepting information that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the facts that we receive. And evidence and reason and logic.”
Obama also zeroed in on Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accord. He claimed that in an age when some world leaders are willing to “violate our principals because of fear and uncertainty,” progress measured by the work of multinational coalitions and institutions won’t continue. “We have to sustain our alliances. We have to help other countries with their own development,” he said. Although he never outright addressed it, it was clear that Obama was focusing on Trump’s “America First” philosophy. He would later warn that if we fail to cooperate globally, we will see anti-democratic forces swooping in to fill the void.
Obama declared that what could be coming is “intolerance and tribalism and organizing ourselves along ethnic lines.”
“The disruptions that are happening globally are going to continue to accelerate,” Obama warned. “And what’s more, in an age of instant information, where TV and Twitter can feed us a steady stream of bad news – and sometimes fake news – it can seem like the international order that we’ve created is being constantly tested, and that the center may not hold. And in some cases that leads people to search for certainty and control, and they can call for isolationism or nationalism, or they can consider rolling back the rights of others, or simply they can try to retreat and suggest that we have no obligations beyond our borders, or beyond our communities, beyond our tribe. That what’s good for me and my immediate people is all that matters. Everybody else is on their own.”
Obama pleased the Canadian crowd when he pronounced that the Paris climate treaty was “an agreement that, even with the temporary absence of American leadership, will still give our children a fighting chance.” He rallied even more support when he made a point to defend policies aimed at sheltering refugees. This took a stab at the Trump administration fighting with federal courts to temporarily suspend America’s refugee program.
What to you think about Obama’s not so veiled criticisms of President Trump while speaking to a massive Canadian crowd?
Credit: Daily Mail