Quote to Note: "Where does this stop?" - A visibly angry President Obama on Trump's proposed actions against Muslims. Obama came out of a National Security Council meeting and took off the gloves.
The New York Times has a brief summary (and a highly edited shorter version of the video). Time.com also reviews the speech and provides a full transcript. Here's a link to the full speech on YouTube.
You have to watch his speech. Obama reported on the gains against ISIL/ISIS, including financial damage and the deaths of their top leaders. Then, at around 11 minutes into his presentation, the president addressed the situation here at home. He took Congress to task for its opposition to gun safety measures, noting that those persons on the "no fly" list can obtain firearms, and that home-grown terrorists can legally obtain semiautomatic weapons like that used in Orlando. He spoke to the criticism (mainly by Trump) about not using the label "radical Islam." He asked "What does this mean?"
What exactly would using this label would accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to try to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this?
Instead, Obama said, the label is a mere "political distraction."
Obama added, sarcastically, that none of his advisors had come to him saying that the use of the "radical Islam" label would increase success in combatting ISIS.
There has not been a moment in my 7.5 years as president where we have not able to pursue a strategy because we didn’t use the label “radical Islam.” Not once has an adviser of mine said, “Man, if we use that phrase, we are going to turn this whole thing around,” not once.
And then he turned to the proposal by Trump for a ban on all Muslims entering the country.
We now have proposals from the presumptive Republican nominee for president of the United States to bar all Muslims from immigrating into America. And you hear language that singles out immigrants and suggests entire religious communities are complacent in violence.
Where does this stop? The Orlando killer, one of the San Bernardino killers, the Fort Hood killer — they were all U.S. citizens. Are we going to start treating all Muslim-Americans differently? Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance? Are we going to start discriminate them, because of their faith?
This part of Obama's speech was a take-down on Republican support for Trump.
We heard these suggestions during the course of this campaign. Do Republican officials actually agree with this?
He urged Americans to hold fast to our values.
This is a country founded on basic freedoms, including freedom of religion. We don’t have religious tests here. Our founders, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, are clear about that.
And if we ever abandon those values, we would not only make it a lot easier to radicalize people here and around the world, but we would have betrayed the very things we are trying to protect.
The pluralism and the openness, our rule of law, our civil liberties, the very things that make this country great. The very things that make us exceptional. And then the terrorists would have won and we cannot let that happen. I will not let that happen.
Here is how he ended.
... Our diversity and our respect for one another, our drawing on the talents of everybody in this country, our making sure that we are treating everybody fairly, that we are not judging people on the basis of what faith they are or what race they are or what ethnicity they are or what their sexual orientation is.
That’s what makes this country great. That’s the spirit we see in Orlando. That’s the unity and resolve that will allow us to defeat ISIL. That’s what will preserve our values and our ideals that define us as Americans. That’s how we are going to defend this nation and that’s how we are going to defend our way of life. Thank you very much.
Trump is a bully, but today Obama had the bully pulpit and used it with the full force of the office of the President. He might well have paraphrased Michael Douglas' closing to his speech in the movie The American President.
... If you want to talk about character and American values, fine. Just tell me where and when, and I'll show up. This is a time for serious people, [Mr. Trump], and your fifteen minutes are up. My name is [Barack Obama], and I am the President.