Has Barack Obama gone MAGA? Jim Treacher’s kidding about that, but he’s not joking about the surprising rebuke offered by the former president to the idea of “wokeness” and to call-out culture, especially on college campuses. Obama accused the woke brigades of confusing hyper-judgmentalism with actual change, and call-out culture for being lazy.
To put it another way, this is not hope and change:
— attn (@attn) 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,” he said. “The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws.”
Obama also called out what he perceived as a “danger” among younger people.
“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,’” he said, then offered an example:
Like 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? I called you out.’ I’m gonna get on TV. Watch my show. Watch ‘Grown-ish.’ 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.
That’s about as succinct a take-down as one might find of progressive cancel culture, and it’s coming from one of its icons. That’s almost literally true, thanks to Shepard Fairey and his “HOPE” iconography, which he had later cause to regret. Having the Left’s Mr. Cool tell you that your woke posing and Robespierre-esque tactics are nothing but narcissism should put a damper on things. If this doesn’t do it, nothing will.
This might be the best post-presidency speech Obama has given yet, but Treacher’s not terribly impressed by it. After all, he argues, Obama may scorn the Woke Brigades and narcissistic Robespierres now, but Treacher writes that Obama built that:
Man, this guy must’ve hated the president we had before Trump. That guy was always talking about “getting in their faces” and “punching back twice as hard.” He thought anybody who disagreed with him was just “clinging to their guns and religion.” He was judgmental as hell about a plumber who asked him a question he wasn’t prepared to answer without embarrassing himself. Past Obama was not at all the sort of person Present Obama is describing here.
But hey, it’s still good advice for young people. If you wait long enough, eventually Obama will say something true by accident.
And maybe learn a hard lesson eventually, too:
Is it just me, or does he really sound like a right-winger there? The 2016 election was, in part, a backlash against the exact sort of behavior Obama is criticizing. People are tired of being judged, getting called out for using the wrong verb and so forth, and they voted accordingly.
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 Maxmilien 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. The 2016 election was in part the counterreaction to cancel culture, and Obama wants to eliminate it to belatedly consolidate the gains he made in eight years.
Regardless of the motive and of the hypocrisy, Obama’s both correct and devastating in this clip. Let’s hope it gets lots and lots of play among the Hopenchange crowd.