“If you want to make it big in the political world, you have to make your case with facts and data and truth.”
— Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.
Va.) in his commencement address at Western Kentucky University in 2019.
The Republican senator is currently running for a U.S. Senate seat in West Virginia.
“I have learned that truth is the enemy of lies,” he said at the commencement.
“And truth can only be achieved when the facts are followed.”
He then gave his speech in a classroom full of students and faculty.
The 2016 presidential election saw a surge in voter turnout, fueled by social media and by social conservatives like Manchin.
The election also coincided with a surge of hate crimes and attacks on Muslims, many of whom Trump blamed on immigrants and minorities.
Manchin was a staunch Trump supporter, and he made sure to say that the “truth is not the enemy.”
Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric in the White House was particularly troubling to many people, Manchin said.
“In this country, the only people who are treated differently on the basis of race, religion, national origin, or gender are those who have historically been the victims of violence,” he told students in the commencement speech.
“Our leaders and our president are not our enemies, but our friends.”
“If you have a platform to speak and you can be heard, you can have a voice,” he added.
“But you must be prepared to fight the people who want to silence you.
And I know it is hard to do that when we are so far away.”
Manchin’s speech came a few months after he spoke to students at Western, where he urged students to “work together in a culture of compassion, respect, and inclusion.”
In 2019, Manchins speech at Western drew criticism because he took issue with the concept of free speech.
“Freedom of speech does not exist in the United States of America,” Manchin told the class.
“It has been lost.”
Manchins speech came just weeks after he was fired from the U.K.’s Conservative Party for tweeting that he was “really proud” to be “an English-only immigrant” and “very proud to be a woman” in a speech in which he defended a controversial speech in the Ueskof, a city in Scotland, that called for women to be punished for having abortions.
The Ueskovof was criticized by conservative politicians and religious leaders.
Ahead of his speech, Manichins press secretary, Lauren McAlpine, tweeted that the university was “extremely disappointed” in the remarks, but also said they were “very flattering to the Conservative Party.”
In a press release, the university said it would not tolerate anti-Islam rhetoric or discrimination.
More than 150 people were injured in violence following the Uleskof incident, and at least two people died.
The British prime minister has also expressed concern about the violence and is expected to visit the Uzeskof later this week.