President Barack Obama is facing backlash for comments he made while speaking at a town hall in Laos, saying that Americans may sometimes feel "lazy" on cultural or environmental issues.
Obama was present at a Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) meeting and said that due to the size of the United States, Americans may sometimes not have a strong pull toward learning about other people. He compared this with the citizens of smaller nations, like Laos, having close neighbors and feeling an obligation to learn about those other countries and cultures.
“If you are in Laos, you need to know about Thailand and China and Cambodia, because you are a small country and they are right next door and you need to know who they are," Obama said, according to RT.
“If you are in the United States, sometimes you can feel lazy and think, ‘You know, we are so big we don’t have to really know anything about other people.’”
The president claims his comments meant that he was trying to change the alleged American view that getting to know other cultures isn't necessary.
Obama also spoke about Americans' view toward environmental development policies and said there were ways to further progress without destroying the planet.
“Usually when you see the environment destroyed, it’s not because it’s necessary for development,” he said, according to The Federalist. “It’s usually because we’re being lazy and we’re not being as creative as we could be about how to do it in a smarter, more sustainable way.”
While Obama faced applause at the meeting in Laos, Twitter users immediately began attacking the president, with some even going so far as to suggest that he should stay in Laos. Some Twitter users attributed things to Obama that he had not said, such as that he "hates" Americans.
He also faced backlash for suggesting Americans could learn something from the people of Laos.
“If we are not here interacting and learning from you, and understanding the culture of the region, then we will be left behind,” Obama said. “We will miss an opportunity, and I don't want that to happen. Okay?”
Twitter users also ripped into the president about that.
Others on social media, however, agreed with the president or simply lambasted the outrage.