President Barack Obama on Sunday urged college graduates to shun those who want to confront a rapidly changing world by building walls around the United States or by embracing ignorance, as he delivered a sharp and barely concealed critique of Donald Trump.
Obama used his commencement speech at Rutgers University to illustrate a world view antithetical to the ideas espoused by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Looking out at a sea of red and black gowns, Obama told the roughly 12,000 graduating students that the pace of change on the planet is accelerating, not subsiding, and that recent history had proved that the toughest challenges cannot be solved in isolation.
“A wall won’t stop that,” Obama said, bringing to mind Trump’s call for building a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. “The point is, to help ourselves, we’ve got to help others — not pull up the drawbridge and try to keep the world out.”
The president never mentioned Trump by name, but his intended target seemed clear. Repeatedly, Obama referred to disparaging comments about Muslims and immigrants, and opposition to free trade deals. But he appeared most incensed by what he described as a rejection of facts, science and intellectualism that he said was pervading politics.