- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2016

In a swipe at Republicans in general and Donald Trump in particular, first lady Michelle Obama urged native American high school graduates Thursday to reject leaders who advocate “that we should be selfish.”

“More than ever before, our world needs you,” Mrs. Obama told students at the Santa Fe Indian School in New Mexico. “And you don’t need your first lady to tell you that. All you have to do is tune into the news and you’ll see that right now, some of the loudest voices in our national conversation are saying things that go against every single one of the values that you’ve been living at this school.”

The first lady never mentioned a candidate by name, or even a political party, but it was clear she was referring to the GOP and its presumptive nominee, Mr. Trump. She said the values of her opponents “are not the values that build strong families.”

“They’re telling us that we should disrespect others because of who they are or where they come from or how they worship,” Mrs. Obama said. “They’re telling us that we should be selfish — that folks who are struggling don’t deserve our help. That we should just take what we can from life and not worry about anyone else.”

Mr. Trump, of course, has proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and has called for building a wall along the Mexican border.

The first lady went on, “And they’re saying that it’s OK to keep harming our planet and using our land, our air, our water however we wish.”

“You all know that those are not the values that shape good citizens,” Mrs. Obama said. “Those are not the values that build strong families, and communities, and nations. So we desperately need your voices and your values in this conversation, reminding us that we are all interconnected, all obligated to treat one another with respect. To act with integrity. To give back to those in need.”

Santa Fe Indian School is owned by New Mexico’s 19 pueblos. The school said it has a 98 percent graduation rate in recent years, with about 90 percent of graduates going on to college.

Mrs. Obama told the students that the school was founded in 1890 “as part of a deliberate, systematic effort to extinguish your cultures — to literally annihilate who you were and what you believed in.”

“But today, the Native languages that were once strictly forbidden here now echo through the hallways and in your dorm room conversations at night,” she said to applause. “The traditions that this school was designed to destroy are now expressed in every square foot of this place.”

Her voice quaking with emotion, Mrs. Obama spoke of her family’s history as a reason for hope for the graduates.

“It’s the same hope I feel when I think about my own story — how my great-great-grandfather was another man’s property, my great-grandfather was another man’s servant, my grandparents and parents felt the sting of segregation and discrimination,” she said. “But because they refused to be defined by anyone else’s idea of who they were and what they could be, because they held fast to their impossible dreams for themselves and their children, today, my two daughters wake up each morning in the White House.”

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