Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday warned, “a lot of the dangers of cancel culture” are we are “just going to be condemning people all the time.”
During a special with CNN‘s Anderson Cooper titled “Barack Obama on Fatherhood, Leadership and Legacy,” the former president said his daughters, Sasha, 19, and Malia, 22, tell him “sometimes among their peer group or in college campuses you’ll see folks going overboard.”
Obama said they have to recognize, “we don’t expect everybody to be perfect,” and “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.”
The former president went on to say some conservative media outlets are making it “hard for the majority” of white Americans “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.”
He added, his political opponents frequently would “not only block that story but try to exploit it for their own political gain.
“I also think that there are certain right-wing media venues,” Obama said, not naming any network specifically, “that monetize and capitalize on stoking the fear and resentment of a white population that is witnessing a changing America and seeing demographic changes.”
These outlets “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,” the former president said.
He went on to criticize Republicans for focusing on the topic of critical race theory and not issues like climate change and the economy, saying the GOP is suggesting critical race theory is “the biggest single most important issue” right now.
Obama said, with a laugh, “who knew that was the threat to our republic?”
Critical race theory is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as the concept in which race is a socially constructed category ingrained in American law intended to maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites. It holds that the U.S. society is inherently or systemically racist.
Obama also praised his children for being “so much wiser and more sophisticated and gifted than I was at their age,” noting their taking part in Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd provided him with a “great source of optimism.”
“When people talk about,” Obama said, “how do I think about my legacy, you know, part of it is the kids who were raised during the eight years that I was president.
“There are a bunch of basic assumptions they make about what the country can and should be that I think are still sticking. They still believe it. And they’re willing to work for it,” he added.
“That’s among not just my daughters, but among their white friends.”