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Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivered a pointed speech on Wednesday, warning of “a growing crisis in ethics and integrity” in American democracy months after President Donald Trump fired him over Twitter.
The former chief executive of ExxonMobil gave a firey commencement address at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, on Wednesday, warning the graduating class that leaders who “conceal the truth” also risk damaging freedom.
“If our leaders seek to conceal the truth or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom,” Tillerson said.
While the former secretary of state stayed away from mentioning President Donald Trump or any current leaders by name, many online quickly connected the dots regarding Tillerson's speech.
Speaking of people implicitly rebuking Trump in commencement speeches, Tillerson warns America will lose its freedom “if our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts.” https://t.co/mbZn4TvQGi
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) May 16, 2018
Pretty pointed comments by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson giving VMI commencement address pic.twitter.com/MdROZnN8VH
— Elise Labott (@eliselabottcnn) May 16, 2018
In a commencement address, Rex Tillerson said that truth is important. Pundits, including pro-Trump ones, are interpreting the statement as anti-Trump. Doesn’t that say a lot?
— Jay Nordlinger (@jaynordlinger) May 16, 2018
Here's Rex Tillerson subtweeting Donald Trump for waging war on reality during a speech in Virginia today pic.twitter.com/WrUSX8tJjw
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 16, 2018
“A responsibility of every American citizen to each other is to preserve and protect our freedom by recognizing what truth is and is not, what a fact is and is not,” Tillerson said.
“If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders in both the public and private sector — and regrettably at times even the nonprofit sector — then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years,” he added.
Tillerson was recently replaced by Mike Pompeo following a rocky relationship with the president that saw him refuse to publically deny calling Trump a “moron.”