Obama's Advice to Liberals: Don't Go Around 'Looking for Insults'

Obama’s Advice to Liberals: Don’t Go Around ‘Looking for Insults’

Barack Obama Weighs In On Political Correctness versus Common Decency

In a wide-ranging exit interview with National Public Radio, President Barack Obama addressed political correctness; distinguishing common decency from the much-maligned P.C. label and advising liberals to stop “looking for insults”.

On Thursday, NPR conducted an exit interview with outgoing President Barack Obama. Topics ranged from Trump and Russia to his own plans after leaving the White House. At one point during the interview, Obama addressed “a hypersensitivity” that he says “ends up resulting in people not being able to express their opinions at all without somebody suggesting they’re a victim.”

When asked if he agrees with President-Elect Trump, who made the denigration of political correctness a focal point of his campaign, Obama opined:

“If somebody says, ‘You know what, I’m not sure affirmative action is the right way to solve racial problems in this country,’ and somebody’s immediately accused of being racist, well, then I think you [Trump] have a point.”

Obama was quick to differentiate himself from the president-elect, however, and distinguished political correctness from common decency. Not using racial epithets or speaking derogatively of others, he said, is “good manners, sound values and hard-fought gains in the nature of American society and American community.”

He continued:

“If what’s meant by political correctness is that there is some broad disapproval that’s expressed when somebody uses a racial epithet, or somebody makes a derogatory comment about women, or about the LGBT community, and people say, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t do that. That’s wrong, that’s cruel, that’s hurtful. Here’s the history of that word.’ And when you use words like that, you’re reinforcing people feeling like they’re outsiders, and less than other Americans.”

Obama also offered advice to liberals, telling them to stop “looking for insults” and to engage people on their ideas:

“My advice to progressives like myself, and this is advice I give my own daughters, who are about to head off to college, is don’t go around just looking for insults. You’re tough. If somebody says something you don’t agree with, just engage them on their ideas.”

Speaking to liberals and conservatives, both of whom he insisted regularly fall prey to hypersensitivity, Obama offered some more advice:

“And my advice to young people, and my advice to all of us as citizens, is to be able to distinguish between being courteous and being thoughtful and thinking about how words affect other people and not demonizing others versus having legitimate political debates and disagreements.”

 Photo by Peter Macdiarmid – WPA Pool /Getty Images

Timothy Bertrand is an author and journalist from Houston, Texas. He is the Associate Editor at Reverb Press and splits his time between covering breaking news and penning thoughtful literary essays.