Today, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:
….We may not see eye to eye on everything, but we are all Americans. And there is so much more that unites us than divides us. I have said many times, I think it’s appropriate for us, not to consider ourselves on the Republican team or the Democratic team, on the red team or the blue team, but to be on the American team. And after a terrible event, like Orlando, that’s clearer than ever.
That’s what we’re seeing in Orlando and across America – people of different faiths, backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities coming together to say with one voice, we won’t let hate defeat us.
If we can count on that kind of unity and solidarity from each other – if even the families of the Orlando victims are speaking out right now against hate and division – we should certainly expect that from our leaders.
And I am sorry to say that is not what we are hearing from Donald Trump.
Donald Trump wants to be our next Commander in Chief. I think we all know that is a job that demands a calm, collected, and dignified response to these kinds of events. Instead, yesterday morning, just one day after the massacre, he went on TV and suggested that President Obama is on the side of the terrorists.
Just think about that for a second.
Even in a time of divided politics, this is beyond anything that should be said by someone running for President of the United States. And I have to ask – will responsible Republican leaders stand up to their presumptive nominee? Or will they stand by his accusation about our President?
I am sure they would rather avoid that question altogether. But history will remember what we do in this moment.
What Donald Trump is saying is shameful. It is disrespectful to the people who were killed and wounded, and their families. And it is yet more evidence that he is temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be Commander in Chief.
Of course, he is a leader of the birther movement, which spread the lie that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States. I guess he had to be reminded Hawaii is part of the United States. This is the man who claimed a distinguished federal judge born and raised in Indiana can’t do his job because of his – quote –‘Mexican heritage.’ I guess he has to be reminded Indiana is in the United States.
So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. But it was one thing when he was a reality TV personality. You know, raising his arms and yelling, you’re fired. It is another thing altogether when he’s the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee for president.
Americans don’t need conspiracy theories and pathological self-congratulations. We need leadership, common sense and concrete plans.
Because we are facing a brutal enemy. In the Middle East, ISIS is attempting a genocide of religious and ethnic minorities. They’re slaughtering Muslims who refuse to accept their medieval ways. They are beheading civilians, including executing LGBT people; murdering Americans and Europeans; enslaving, torturing, and raping women and girls.
The barbarity we face from radical jihadists is profound. So I would like to have a worthy debate on the best way to keep our country safe. That’s what Americans deserve.
I read every word of Donald Trump’s speech yesterday. And I sifted through all the bizarre rants and the outright lies.
What I found, once you cut through the nonsense, is that his plan comes down to two things.
First, he is fixated on the words ‘radical Islam.’ I must say, I find this strange. Is Donald Trump suggesting that there are magic words that, once uttered, will stop terrorists from coming after us? Trump, as usual, is obsessed with name-calling. From my perspective, it matters what we do, not just what we say. In the end, it didn’t matter what we called bin Laden – it mattered that we got bin Laden.
I have clearly said that we face terrorist enemies who use a perverted version of Islam to justify slaughtering innocent people. We have to stop them, and we will. So if Donald suggests I won’t call this threat what it is, he hasn’t been listening.
But I will not demonize and declare war on an entire religion.
Now that we’re past the semantic debate, Donald is going to have to come up with something better.
He’s got one other idea. He wants to ban all Muslims from entering our country. And now he wants to go even further, and suspend all immigration from large parts of the world.
I’ve talked before about how this approach is un-American. It goes against everything we stand for as a country founded on religious freedom. But it is also dangerous. First, we rely on partners in Muslim countries to fight terrorists; this would make it harder. Second, we need to build trust in Muslim communities here at home to counter radicalization; and this would make it harder. Third, Trump’s words will be, in fact they already are, a recruiting tool for ISIS to help increase its ranks of people willing to do what we saw in Orlando. And fourth, he’s turning Americans against Americans, which is exactly what ISIS wants.
Leaders who’ve actually fought terrorists know this. General Petraeus said recently that ‘demonizing a religious faith and its adherents’ will come at a great cost, not just to our values but to our men and women in uniform and our national security.
Commissioner Bill Bratton of the New York Police Department said this kind of talk makes his job harder. He has Muslims in his police force, he has Muslims in the community, he needs everybody working together against any potential threat.
But Donald won’t listen to any of this. Not experts like General Petraeus or Commissioner Bratton, because he says he knows more about ISIS than the generals do. It’s almost hard to think of what to say about that claim.
But in this instance, Donald’s words are especially nonsensical. Because the terrorist who carried out this attack wasn’t born in Afghanistan, as Donald Trump said yesterday. He was born in Queens – just like Donald was himself. So Muslim bans and immigration reforms would not have stopped him. They would not have saved a single life in Orlando.
Those are the only two ideas Donald Trump put forward yesterday for how to fight ISIS.
Beyond that, he said a lot of false things, including about me. He said I’ll abolish the Second Amendment. Well, that’s wrong. He said I’ll let a flood of refugees into our country without any screening. That’s also wrong.
These are demonstrably lies. But he feels compelled to tell them – because he has to distract us from the fact that he has nothing substantive to say for himself.
Much of the rest of his speech was spent denigrating not just the President, but the efforts of all the brave American service members, law enforcement agents, intelligence officers, diplomats and others who have worked so hard to keep our country safe. Donald says our military is a disaster and the world is laughing at us. Wrong again.
Since 9/11, America has done a great deal at home and abroad to stop terrorists. Thousands of Americans have fought and died. We have worked intensively with our allies, engaged in fierce and vital debates here at home about how far our government should go in monitoring threats. We have vastly increased security measures at airports, train stations, power plants and many other places. And the American people, we have all become more vigilant, even while we have carried on living our lives as normally as possible.
It has been a long and difficult effort. We’ve had successes, and we’ve also had failures. But one thing’s for sure: the fight against terrorism has never been simple.
We need a Commander-in-Chief who is up to these challenges – who can grapple with them in all their complexity – someone with real plans and real solutions that actually address the problems we face. And we need someone with the temperament and experience to make those hard choices in the Situation Room – not a loose cannon who could easily lead us into war.
One more thing. Donald Trump has been very clear about what he won’t do. He won’t stand up to the gun lobby.
The terrorist who killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in Orlando did it with two guns: a handgun and a Sig Sauer MCX rifle. If you don’t know what that is, I urge you to Google it. See it for yourself.
This man had been investigated by the FBI for months. But we couldn’t stop him from buying a powerful weapon that he used to slaughter Americans in large numbers.
Let’s get this straight. We have reached the point where people can’t board planes with full bottles of shampoo – but people being watched by the FBI for suspected terrorist links can buy a gun with no questions asked. That is absurd.
It just seems like western Pennsylvania common sense, if you’re too dangerous to get on a plane, you’re too dangerous to buy a gun.
Enough is enough. Now is time for seriousness and resolve.
We need to go after ISIS overseas, we need to protect Americans here at home, counter their poisonous ideologies, support our first responders, take a hard look at our gun laws and we need to stand with the LGBT community and peaceful Muslim Americans, today and always.
In the days and weeks ahead, I will have more to say about how we will work together to keep our country and our citizens safe and take the fight to the terrorists. None of this will be easy. And none of it will be helped by anything that Donald Trump has to offer.
This is a time to set aside fear and division, and reach for unity. America is strongest when we all feel like we have a stake in our country. When we all have real chance to live up to our God-given potential, and we want others here to have that chance, too.
We’ve always been a country of ‘we,’ not ‘me.’ And we’ve always been stronger together.
We are stronger when people can participate in our democracy, share in the rewards of our economy, and contribute to our communities.
When we bridge our divides and lift each other up, instead of tearing each other down.
My name is Barack Hussein Obama, and I am the President. (June 14, 2016)