Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Tuesday that the U.S. has become a society based on "insults" and "lies," cautioning that the deterioration of public discourse is hurting America's reputation abroad.
"We have come to live in a society based on insults, on lies and on things that just aren't true. It creates an environment where deranged people feel empowered," Powell, who served under former President George W. Bush (R), said during an event at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., according to CNN.
"We've seen incidents before but now, we've come to live in a society based on insults and attacking almost every facet of American life," he added.
Powell also called on "all public officials" to work with members of the other party and to cool political hostilities following a series of bomb threats against prominent Democrats and CNN and a massacre at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
The 81-year-old former Cabinet official has been critical of President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE in the past, and has questioned whether he can be a moral leader for the country.
In Nebraska, Powell was specifically critical of the president's rhetoric toward immigrants, and particularly a group of Central American migrants making its way toward the southern U.S. border. Trump has painted the group as an imminent threat to national security, spreading unfounded claims that "unknown Middle Easterners" and "thugs" are traveling with the group.
"This is a disgrace," Powell said. "I don't see any terrorists. I don't see any bombs going off. I'm not saying we let everybody in, you don't just open the door. But we should avoid language like this and see how we can solve this problem."