Former US president Barack Obama has admitted that while the American nation’s history of slavery and racism still “linger”, cancel culture has certain pitfalls, and availed himself of an opportunity to take aim at ex-POTUS Donald Trump and the Republican Party. Obama juggled the plethora of issues in an expansive interview for CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Former President Obama says he expected more in the GOP to stand up to Trump and his falsehoods about the election: “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.’” pic.twitter.com/uGKtYnFAKc— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) June 8, 2021
The AC360 Special was named “Barack Obama on Fatherhood, Leadership and Legacy”, as the politician who served as 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017 shared his views on everything ranging from his concerns about the future of American democracy and the racial justice movement, to his assessment of the “dark spirits” welling up within the US Republican Party and Trump's election fraud claims.
Speaking in the wake of the release of his latest memoir, "A Promised Land", published in late 2020, Obama underscored that the nation's history of slavery and racism still “linger and continue”.
Looking forward to reading @BarackObama - A Promised Land - exploring the power of hope and aspiration and bending the arc of history in the direction of social justice and collective moral endeavours pic.twitter.com/m24OAZ2XsQ— Paul Goodall (@MrGoodall_NCHS) June 1, 2021
Obama, the nation's first and only black president, said it continues to be a key cause of division in the US and accused the conservative media of “stoking” it.
He added that he believes many white Americans find it hard to “recognise 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.”
Obama mentioned his daughters Sasha, 19, and Malia, 22, as being part of a new generation that would not tolerate what his own generation had been willing to live with regarding racial justice. He added that the girls had attended Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
On 25 May 2020, Derek Chauvin, a 45-year-old police officer, detained Floyd, a recently-unemployed African-American ex-convict who had served time for armed robbery in Texas, after he supposedly used a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store in Minneapolis. Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for almost 10 minutes before the captive lost consciousness. He later died in hospital.
The incident, caught on film by passers-by, triggered mass protests in almost every major city in the US as well as in other cities abroad, with the so-called Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement denouncing police brutality and racism.
“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. That's among not just my daughters but among their white friends,” said Obama.
As he emphasised that there is a heightened sense of how it is not acceptable for a criminal justice system to be “tainted by racism”, he went on to say that this generation was being “strategic” about pushing for change while not expecting “everybody to be perfect.”
“… 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.
The current remarks echo statements made by Barack Obama previously as he slammed prevalence of “call-out culture” and “wokeness” during an interview about youth activism at the Obama Foundation summit.
Obama had touched upon the role of social media in activism, including the idea of what’s become known as “cancel culture”, which tends to refer to situations when someone has said or done something to which others object.
That person is subsequently condemned in a stream of social media posts, with the people often referred to as “cancelled,” as others claim they want nothing to do with them.
“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 easy to do,” Obama said in 2020.
‘Concern for Democracy’
During his appearance on the CNN show, Barack Obama also touched upon the Republican Party and ex-POTUS Donald Trump. He believed that there was reason to “worry” about the future of America's democracy.
He also denounced what he referred to as “dark spirits” that rose within the party.
Former President Barack Obama claimed Republicans had been "cowed into accepting" what "would be unrecognisable and unacceptable even five years ago or a decade ago," in a reference to Trump’s claims the 2020 presidential election had been marred by fraud and was “stolen” from him, which culminated in the Capitol riot on 6 January as Joe Biden’s win was being certified.