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Obama Warns Against Nationalism Rooted in ‘Hatred for Somebody on the Other Side of the Border’

Former President Barack Obama warned against nationalism based on “hatred” in a discussion with former Secretary of State James Baker III at Rice University in Houston on Tuesday night. In a sweeping speech in which he sought to explain why politics have become so volatile in recent years, Obama said many people had resorted to a form of “identity politics”—which he noted began in the Jim Crow era—after feeling that “their status is being jostled and threatened.” “We did not adapt quickly enough to the fact that there were people being left behind and that frustrations were going to flare up,” he said. “In those environments, you’d then start getting a different kind of politics. You’d start getting politics that’s based on ‘That person’s not like me, and it must be their fault.’ And you start getting politics based on a nationalism that’s not pride in country but hatred for somebody on the other side of the border,” he said. While Obama stopped short of naming any names, President Trump has been criticized in recent months for openly identifying himself as a “nationalist,” a term which many fear enables white nationalists. The 45-minute discussion was held to celebrate the Baker Institute for Public Policy’s 25th anniversary.