After nine days of utter silence, former President Obama is speaking out against President Trump and his xenophobic executive order banning Syrian refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. He also had words of encouragement for those protesting this new administration.
According to Politico, in a statement issued on Monday, Obama’s spokesman Kevin Lewis said the former president was “heartened by the level of engagement taking place in communities around the country” because he believes they’re “citizens exercising their Constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.”
Lewis also addressed recent comments that the Trump White House made saying that their ban is no different from what President Obama did in 2011, when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.
But according to the fact checkers, that comparison is pretty faulty. As NBC News pointed out, Obama’s 2011 order did not ban visas for refugees, who by definition don’t travel on visas. He did tighten the review process for Iraq citizens and for refugees from the six other countries, while Trump’s order is as sweeping ban that applies to nearly every resident and citizen of seven countries, minus the Muslim countries he has done or currently has businesses in.
“With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the president fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion,” Lewis added.
He was referencing comments Obama made in 2015 after the Paris terrorist attacks when Republicans expressed that they only wanted to let Christian Syrian refugees enter the country, leaving Muslims behind. Obama said back then that these proposed policies were “shameful,” the Huffington Post noted.
“That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion,” he said. “I think it is very important for us right now — particularly those who are in leadership, particularly those who have a platform and can be heard — not to fall into that trap, not to feed that dark impulse inside of us.”
The former president’s recent statements may come as a slight surprise given that before leaving office he vowed to uphold the tradition of not criticizing the incoming leadership. But on the other hand, he did promise to speak out when he saw core values being threatened under Trump, Politico explained.
Either way, we’re glad to see him adding to the national conversation. Please, keep it coming!