Cancel culture and “woke” political correctness has found a new and surprising critic in former US president Barack Obama, who warned American liberals about the folly of demanding ideological “purity” from everyone around them.
Speaking at his annual Obama Foundation summit on Tuesday, the former president blasted the current liberal trend toward ‘calling out’ and ‘cancelling’ anyone who says or does something which is not considered ‘woke’ enough for the modern age.
Former US President Barack Obama has only gone and called out the political woke. The poster boy of every self-respecting progressive has thrown a zinger or two at the social justice warriors of social media. You’d better watch out for return friendly fire Mr President! pic.twitter.com/neBp83DXxJ
— ICYMI (@ICYMIvideo) October 30, 2019
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.
“The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws,” he told attendees at the Chicago event.
Obama slammed the instinct to go after someone who “didn’t do something right” or “used the wrong verb,” saying it allowed people to feel good about themselves, but wasn’t very productive.
“You know, that’s not activism, that’s not bringing about change,” he said. “If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far.”
Social media reaction to Obama’s cultural intervention has been mixed so far, with many applauding the president for his “wise words” and timely takedown of cancel culture. “Truer words have never been spoken,” one blue-ticked tweeter wrote.
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On the other hand, some used the opportunity to recall Obama’s own darker moments and indiscretions. “People who do good stuff don’t bomb 7 countries,” one said. “People who do really good stuff also torture some folks,” another sarcastic tweeter added.
There was also speculation that Obama was using his comments on ideological purity as a sly dig at some 2020 Democratic candidates for president – specifically uber-progressive Bernie Sanders, who many establishment Democrats still blame for centrist Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump in 2016.
“It’s an anti-Bernie quote. He’s the only one with the pure record of being progressive,” one user suggested.
That interpretation was given some weight by former Obama aide Jen Psaki, who told CNN that she believed Obama was indeed directing his comments at some of the Democratic contenders for president. Psaki said “purity tests” would mean the Democratic Party would be so small that it “won’t be able to win.”
Sanders critics often used the phrase “purity test” to deride his campaign and supporters. Obama’s pointed comments did provoke some reaction off social media, too. The former president was scolded in an oped published by the Independent for his “paternalistic observations” by an author who was not in the mood to take “lessons” from him on how to be woke.
Whatever Obama’s precise meaning, it remains to be seen whether the former president (and until now saintly liberal) will be forced to issue a retraction and groveling apology for his problematic lack of wokeness.
RT with additional input by GVS News Desk.