During an Obama Foundation town hall event in Berlin Saturday, President Barack Obama warned that cancel culture could have a steep downfall for progressives. It’d be wise to stay as grounded as possible.
He told the audience, “One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States … is a certain kind of rigidity where we say, ‘I’m sorry, this is how it’s going to be,’ and then we start sometimes creating what’s called a circular firing squad where you start shooting at your allies because one of them is straying from purity on the issues, and when that happens, typically the overall effort and movement weakens.”
Obama urged the public to decrease internal bickering, and allow for more flexibility in finding routes to success. “It’s important for all of us to admit that in every society there is some temptation, tendency, to separate people who are more like me and less like me. It’s not unique to white Europeans.”
The 44th President detailed his early days in politics as a community organizer, admitting that, like many eager for a better world, he was rigid in demands. And like many who came before him, he was disappointed when he couldn’t get all he wanted, all at once.
“I think whether you are speaking as a citizen or as a political leader or as an organizer … you have to recognize that the way we structure democracy requires you to take into account people who don’t agree with you, and that by definition means you’re not going to get 100% of what you want.”
Around the 54:30 mark he explains,“In order to push back against what are clearly racist motives of some, we can’t label everybody who is disturbed by by immigration as racist. That’s a self defeating tactic — you push away potential allies. Maybe they just haven’t thought about it. They may be good people who are well meaning and they just don’t understand. But if they’re exposed to new information and they’re meeting people from new countries…then suddenly they go ah! Okay!…but if the only thing they’re hearing is either people making them afraid or people saying ‘you’re racist’; then they don’t feel as if they have room to find their better selves.”