U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley kicked off a conservative conference of high school students on Monday by urging attendees to avoid inflammatory language in favor of demonstrating real leadership.
“Raise your hand if you’ve ever posted anything online to quote-unquote ‘own the libs,’ ” Haley asked at the High School Leadership Summit at George Washington University.
The vast majority raised their hands in response, and then erupted into spontaneous applause.
“I know that it’s fun and that it can feel good, but step back and think about what you’re accomplishing when you do this — are you persuading anyone? Who are you persuading?” Haley asked. “We’ve all been guilty of it at some point or another, but this kind of speech isn’t leadership — it’s the exact opposite.”
“Real leadership is about persuasion, it’s about movement, it’s bringing people around to your point of view,” she added. “Not by shouting them down, but by showing them how it is in their best interest to see things the way you do.”
Haley, who was introduced to the audience by her son, said leadership is lacking in this country.
However, she also said those in the room Monday made her want to bet on the future.
The high school summit, presented by the conservative group Turning Point USA, is a four-day event featuring some of the most famous GOP figures in the nation, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump Jr.
Haley used a large chunk of her speech to defend the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the U.N. Human Rights Council, which she called a joke.
She also criticized countries she said agreed with the United States off-the-record but would not publicly support change on the council.
“They lack the courage to make a difference,” Haley said. “They have a voice, they just refuse to use it.”
Haley, who received a standing ovation both coming and going from her speech, posed for students’ pictures for a few minutes after concluding her time.
“If I can leave you with one message today: Have the courage to stand up to the mob,” she said.