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Obama Urges British Youth: Reject Cynicism, Xenophobia

“I'll look at my scorecard at the end... but I'm proud”

Luis Ramirez reporting for Voice of America: As promised in his co-speech with David Cameron, the U.S. President Barack Obama has addressed the Britain’s young generation with a plea to reject pessimism, cynicism, and xenophobia during a town hall discussion in London Saturday.

The President didn’t falter even after a dose of harsh criticism he got for his comments made day earlier, in which he expressed his support for Britain to stay in the European Union and warned about negative repercussions of the BREXIT policy.

The U.S. president said that in times of change, there is a temptation to forge identities, something Obama said “we have to fight against.” Globalization and integration, he said, should be seen "not as threats, but as opportunities."

He also indulged himself in talking about his legacy, what it should mean to people and what qualities he wants to see in the next president. However, Mr. Obama did cover a broad range of topics, not shying away from any sorts of questions from the audience.

He said he would have to wait about 10 years before he can look back and accurately assess his legacy, but "I think I've been true to myself in the process."

“I'll look at my scorecard at the end... but I'm proud,” he said.

Obama mentioned his landmark health care bill, the global response to the Ebola crisis and the Iran nuclear deal as notable achievements, but, in terms of his largest accomplishment: “saving the world economy from a great depression – that was pretty good,” he joked, referencing the 2008 financial crisis.

Another young woman in the audience asked which of the social movements that took place during his presidency helped to change his mind the most, to which Obama cited his evolving view on marriage equality.

At first, Obama said, he was in favor of civil unions because he thought labeling those relationships as marriages was not necessary as long as the people involved were getting the same rights, but his children had a great impact on changing that point of view.

“It’s not simply about legal rights, but the sense of stigma," he said. "If you’re calling it something else, it means less in the eyes of society.”

By Stefan Paraber for GIA

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