Bill Clinton Highlights Power of Diversity in Commencement Speech

May 14, 2017

Without mentioning President Donald Trump by name, former President Bill Clinton strongly rebuked his policies pertaining to Muslims and immigration — arguing that America needs a diverse society to successfully carry itself through the current technological upheaval.

" I am not arguing for any specific position, I am just trying to say you don't need a world that will put the American experiment… in peril by saying us and them is a better model than by expanding the definition of us and shrinking the definition of them, " Clinton said Sunday to loud applause during his commencement speech at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Clinton acknowledged that both America and the world were undergoing significant changes due to globalization, which he said oftentimes causes people to become unsettled and threatened. But, he noted, that often has detrimental effects, some of which are evident in current policies.

He explained how implementing policies that isolate groups and prevent them from contributing to the country could ultimately backfire — highlighting that Muslims are often scapegoated for terrorist attacks and shootings.

"Does it mean we shouldn't be tough on terrorism committed by Islamic radicals? Of course not," Clinton said. " But it means we shouldn’t go around in a blind stupor mixing apples and oranges and terrifying some of the talented, most devoted people in this country who want to make their contribution and who help make us better because diverse groups make better decisions.”

Clinton also disavowed certain components of Trump's immigration policy, lamenting about a two-term veteran who was being sent back to his home country. Although Clinton did not mention the name of the veteran, a judge had ordered the deportation of Miguel Perez Jr., a permanent legal resident from Mexico who served two terms in Afghanistan and was convicted on drug-related charges, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"It kind of embarrasses me that we let a person risk his life for us and then kicked him out," Clinton said.

Immigration reform is a bi-partisan principle, Clinton said, highlighting his work with his successor, former President George W. Bush, on this issue. "We have disagreed over everything, but he's not afraid of immigrants," he said. "He knows we need them."

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