Barack Obama has admitted that cancel culture can go ‘overboard’ as he slammed Republicans who ‘cowed into accepting’ Donald Trump’s false election fraud claims and accused the conservative media of ‘stoking the fear and resentment’ of white Americans.
Obama spoke to CNN’s Anderson Cooper for an AC360 Special named ‘Barack Obama on Fatherhood, Leadership and Legacy’, which aired Monday night.
In the fawning interview with little or no follow-up questions, the former president spoke about fatherhood, the Trump administration and the racial justice movement.
The Democrat said that, while the nation’s history of slavery and racism still ‘linger and continue’, he believes cancel culture has its ‘dangers’.
Barack Obama has admitted that cancel culture can go ‘overboard’ as he slammed Republicans who ‘cowed into accepting’ Donald Trump’s false election fraud claims and accused the conservative media of ‘stoking the fear and resentment’ of white Americans
Obama pointed to his own daughters Sasha, 19, and Malia, 22, who attended Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by white cop Derek Chauvin on Memorial Day 2020.
He said they – and their generation – are not willing to accept some things his generation tolerated.
‘I see in this generation that what you and I might have tolerated as that this sort of how things are, their attitude is why? Let’s change it,’ he said.
‘That’s among not just my daughters but among their white friends.
‘There is a sense of well, of course it not acceptable for a criminal justice system to be tainted by racism. Of course you can’t discriminate against somebody because of their sexual orientation.
‘There are things they take for granted that I want them to take for granted.’
However while this generation are being ‘strategic’ about pushing for change, even they ‘don’t expect everybody to be perfect.’
‘At least in conversations with my daughter, I think that a lot of the dangers of cancel culture and we’re just going to be condemning people all the time, at least among my daughters they will acknowledge sometimes among their peer group or in college campuses you’ll see folks going overboard,’ said Obama.
‘But they have a pretty good sense of look, we don’t want, we don’t expect everybody to be perfect.
‘We don’t expect everybody to be politically correct all the time but we are going to call out institutions or individuals if they are being cruel, if they are, you know, discriminating against people, we do want to raise awareness.’
Obama said he regarded this demand for change among the younger generations as part of his ‘legacy.’
The former president has called out cancel culture in the past, last year saying it is ‘not activism’ and is not an effective way to bring about change.
Obama spoke to CNN’s Anderson Cooper for an AC360 Special named ‘Barack Obama on Fatherhood, Leadership and Legacy’, which aired Monday night
A BLM protest in NYC last June. Obama said his own daughters attended Black Lives Matter protests last year and that their generation is not willing to accept some things his generation tolerated. However he admitted cancel culture has its ‘dangers’
The Democrat also took aim at his successor Trump and the Republican party as he warned ‘we have to worry’ about the future of America’s democracy.
Obama said he never expected some of the ‘dark spirits’ that rose within the party to become as powerful as they did and had believed that GOP members of Congress would ‘stop’ them.
‘I thought there were guard rails institutionally that even after Trump was elected that you would have the so-called Republican establishment who would say “okay, you know, it’s a problem if the White House doesn’t seem to be concerned about Russian meddling or it’s a problem if we have a president who is saying that, you know, neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville, there are good people on both sides,’ he said.
‘That’s a little beyond the pail.’
Instead of calling out Trump, Obama said the party ‘cowed into accepting’ his false claims the election was ‘stolen’, which culminated in the January 6 Capitol riot that left five dead and lawmakers fleeing for their lives.
‘The degree to which we did not see that Republican establishment say “hold on time-out, that’s not acceptable. That’s not who we are” but be cowed into accepting it and finally culminating in January 6 what originally was “don’t worry, this isn’t going anywhere, we’re just letting Trump and others vent”,’ he said.
‘And then suddenly you now have large portions of an elected congress going along with the falsehood that there were problems with the election.’
Obama also took aim at Trump (above) and the Republican party as he said he ‘thought there were guard rails’ in the Republican party to stop Trump’s election fraud claims
He said GOP lawmakers ‘cowed into accepting’ Trump’s false claims because they feared ‘I’ll lose my job’ and said this culminated in the January 6 Capitol riot (above)
Rioters storm the US Capitol in the MAGA mob riot that left five dead and sent lawmakers running for their lives
Obama praised some ‘very brave people who did their jobs’ in calling out Trump’s false claims including Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
But he slammed other Republican lawmakers for putting their own careers ahead of the country by not standing up to the ex-president.
‘All those congressmen started looking around and saying “you know what? I’ll lose my job. I’ll get voted out of office,”‘ he said.
‘Another way of saying this is I didn’t expect that there would be so few people who would say “well, I don’t mind losing my office because this is too important. America is too important. Our democracy is too important.’
He added: ‘We didn’t see that.’
Obama said he hopes the ‘tides will turn’ but that ‘we have to worry when one of our major political parties is willing to embrace a way of thinking about our democracy that would be unrecognizable and unacceptable even five years ago or a decade ago.’
He also blasted the Republican party for putting the debate about Critical Race Theory at the top of the political agenda instead of the likes of climate change or the economy.
‘You would think with all the public policy debates that are taking place right now that the Republican party would be engaged in a significant debate about how are we going to deal with the economy and what are we going to do about climate change,’ he said.
‘Low and behold the single most important issue to them apparently right now is Critical Race Theory. Who knew that was the threat to our Republic?’
Obama and Cooper also spoke with young black fathers in the BAM program in Chicago
Lazarus Daniels told how he would get pulled over every night by police in Chicago while he was working as an Uber driver
Critical race theory examines the ways in which race and racism influence American politics, culture and the law.
Its entry into the nation’s education systems has divided opinion with Democrats typically in favor, while many Republicans vehemently oppose it.
The nation’s first and only black president said race and the nation’s history of slavery continues to be a key cause of division in the US and accused the conservative media of ‘stoking’ this division.
He said his comments saying the police ‘acted stupidly’ when they arrested black Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates at his home in 2009 led to the biggest dip in white voters of everything he did during his presidency.
‘It gives a sense of the degree to which these things are still deep in us. And, you know, sometimes unconscious,’ he said.
‘I also think that there are certain right wing media venues, for example, that monetize and capitalize on stoking the fear and resentment of a white population that is witnessing a change in America and seeing demographic changes and do everything they can to give people a sense that their way of life is threatened and that people are trying to take advantage of them.’
He added that he believes many white Americans find it hard to ‘recognize you can be proud of this country and its traditions and its history and our forefathers and yet, it is also true that this terrible stuff happened.’
‘The vestiges of that linger and continue,’ Obama said.
During the show, Obama and Cooper were seen speaking with young black fathers in the BAM (Becoming a Man) group he is part of in Chicago. It provides mentoring to young men and boys.
Obama also spoke candidly about his own experiences as a young black man who did not have a father figure in his life
One member of the group told how as a young black boy and now a 26-year-old black man, he feels threatened by two gangs – criminals and police.
James Adams said he would wear a bulletproof vest to and from school as a young boy and now ‘it’s still the same thing.’
‘As far as shootings, the vest may protect from that but in terms of police what is it going to take to protect me from that?’ he asked.
‘You’re fighting two gangs – the street gangs and the Chicago police.’
Another man, 26-year-old Lazarus Daniels, told them how he would get pulled over every night by police in Chicago while he was working as an Uber driver.
The first question they would ask, he said, was whether he had any guns or drugs in his car.
He said his focus was on ‘getting home every night’ now he is a father.
Obama also spoke candidly about his own experiences as a young black man who did not have a father figure in his life.
‘I have to be careful not to overstate. I was not, you know, going around, beating up kids and setting things on fire,’ he said.
‘But I understood what it meant to not have a father in the house. I understood what it meant to be in an environment in which you were an outsider.’
‘The violence and drugs and some of the issues that the guys were dealing with day to day were different. But the mistakes I made, the struggles I was going through, were similar.’