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Politics

Obama Rings Hollow on 'Cancel Culture'

His warning to fellow leftists is welcome, but his own track record belies the hypocrisy.

Michael Swartz · Nov. 1, 2019

In a recent speech before a foundation bearing his name, Barack Obama seemed to stumble upon something sensible: “One danger I see among young people, particularly on college campuses … I do get a sense sometimes now among certain young people — and this is accelerated by social media — there is this sense sometimes of ‘The way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people.’”

He explained, “If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb or — then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself because, ‘Man, you can see how woke I was? I called you out.’” But Obama warned, “That’s not activism,” adding, “This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you always politically woke and all that stuff, that is — you should get over that quickly.”

The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro and Matt Walsh were struck by the comment, given the source. And, marveled PJ Media’s Jim Treacher, “Is it just me, or does [Obama] really sound like a right-winger there?”

There’s certainly a place for being judgmental, but this progressive “cancel culture” has utterly infected entertainment and politics. And when the mere enjoyment of, say, a certain type of food (Chick-fil-A, for example) is grounds for social ostracism by the “wokescold” Left, we have a serious societal problem.

Shane Gillis, who was recently fired from “Saturday Night Live” due to a years-old video that the woke crowd deemed offensive, might agree. So might comedian Dave Chappelle, whose most recent Netflix special called “Sticks & Stones” has just a 38% Rotten Tomatoes rating among critics, who must be more “woke” than a viewership who clearly love the show. “In the special, nothing is off-limits for Chappelle,” wrote The Daily Wire’s Amanda Prestigiacomo, “hitting on so-called ‘cancel culture,’ abortion, guns, race, the #MeToo movement, Jussie Smollett, Michael Jackson accusers, R. Kelly, Louis C.K., and LGBTQ activism.” Sounds like a sensory overload for the social-justice warriors and the antifa book-burners among us.

What’s not funny, though, are the very real consequences for those who get canceled by their culture: lost jobs and career opportunities, social-media bullying, and business boycotts to name just a few. Far from being limited to the odd Hollywood celebrity who loses a gig, the regular Joe now has reason to worry that his water-cooler conversation might get him fired.

Yet while it was nice of the former president to raise our awareness of cancel culture, he’d do well to reflect on his own role as an early adopter. Or has he forgotten that that he told supporters, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun”? Or that he weaponized the IRS against Tea Party groups and used the nation’s intelligence apparatus against an opposing political campaign? We’ll take the core message without the heaping serving of hypocrisy, thanks.

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