First lady Michelle Obama has stressed the importance of diversity in the American fabric and denounced divisive rhetoric. Her comments have been viewed as a critique of the current Republican presidential race.
On April 6, Obama attended a belated celebration of Nowruz, the Iranian spring festival that is also known as the Persian New Year. The event is observed on March 20, but the first lady and her family were on a diplomatic tour in Cuba and Argentina during that time, ABC News reports.
“We think America is strongest when we recognize our many traditions, when we celebrate our diversity, and when we lift each other up,” Obama said.
The first lady continued with an indirect reference to the controversial rhetoric and policy proposals of Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
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“In times like these, when we’re hearing so much disturbing and hateful rhetoric, it is so important to remember that our diversity has been and will always be our greatest source of strength and pride here in the United States,” Obama said.
The first lady added that she had always made an effort to make the White House a welcoming host to Americans of all spectrums and creeds, “especially folks who have never been through these doors before.”
Candidates Cruz and Trump have been criticized for their stances on immigration and terrorism. Both favor deporting all 11 million immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.
While Trump has called for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S., Cruz has also called for law enforcement to intensively patrol American Muslim neighborhoods.
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President Barack Obama has also slammed the two candidates for their rhetoric, stating that they alienate American minorities and U.S. allies abroad, CNN reports.
During an April 5 press conference to discuss tax inversions, the president was asked about the tenor of GOP race and said that foreign officials had indeed become alarmed by some of the “wackier suggestions that are being made.”
The first lady concluded during her remarks that it was important to celebrate events such as Nowruz because it reflected the wide scope of American traditions.
“We think America is strongest when we recognize our many traditions,” Obama said, according to CNN. “When we celebrate our diversity and when we lift each other up. That’s most important right now, today, with everything that’s going on.”