Former President Barack Obama had some remarkable things to say at a recent Obama Foundation Summit that took place in Chicago. He slammed “woke people” and the rise of the so-called “cancel culture” according to the Washington Examiner.
“’This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff — you should get over that quickly,’ he said Tuesday. ‘The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws.’”
Obama particularly directed his ire to college students of the sort who shout down conservative speakers, whine about safe spaces and trigger words, and obsess about “cultural appropriation.”
“’There is this sense sometimes of ‘the way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people, and that’s enough,’ Obama said, adding, ‘If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb. Then, I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself because, man, you see how woke I was?’
“’You know, that’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change. If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far,’ he added.”
The natural question to ask is, “Who is this guy and what has he done with Barack Obama?” Is he the same person who once railed against people who “bitterly cling to their god and their guns?”
The former president’s musings have certainly raised a few eyebrows, especially on the conservative side. Pajamas Media suggested, tongue on cheek, that Obama has gone MAG. The article suggested that former President Obama must hate President Obama, who was always talking about getting in peoples’ faces and hitting back twice as hard. Indeed, as Hot Air suggested, woke people and cancel culture? Mr. President, you built that.
So why is Obama suddenly turning on the political zeitgeist that he helped to bring into being? Hot Air suggests that the former president has hit upon an insight that few other people on the left have recognized. The 2016 election was a reaction to the behavior of many people on the left, who chase off guest speakers from off their college campuses whose views they do not like and join into Twitter mobs to make the same sorts of people into unpersons, to coin a term from the old Soviet Union. If one were to get a few drinks into the former president, he might even concede that the new breed of attack dog politics that he brought into being helped to elect Donald Trump.
Obama first campaigned in 2008 on the themes of “hope and change.” It was a great slogan, better than his real feeling that it was time to crush his enemies, drive them before him, and hear the lamentations of the conservatives. The reality of what hope and change really meant led to the rise of the Tea Party, the electoral massacres of down-ballot Democrats in 2010 and 2014, and a lot of angry, middle and working-class people who trudged to the polls in 2016 to elect a real estate tycoon and reality show star as president.
Hot Air suggests that something more is motivating Obama to try to slay the monster that he helped to create.
“No, Obama doesn’t sound like a right-winger, but the problem with rampant Robespierrism is that eventually, everyone ends up looking like a reactionary in comparison, including the Robespierres … as the original Maximilien Robespierre found out a wee bit too late. Obama’s smart enough to understand the history of cancel culture, from its tragic first appearance to the farcical (so far) version of it we face today.”
As the Hot Air article goes on to say, while Obama is being just a tad hypocritical, he knows that the reaction to cancel culture has the potential to sweep away the entire legacy that he forged as president of the United States. It may be too late for that. Trump has been busily removing as much of Obamaism as he can, from gutting Obamacare to trying to send Americans back to the moon, something the former president sneered at.
The question arises, will the left, from the college students to the current presidential candidates, listen to what Obama has to say. That remains to be seen.