It is often said that politics makes strange bedfellows, but who could have predicted a cultural alliance between, well, pretty much anyone except our self-appointed progressive moral overlords and former President Barack Obama?
As The Blaze reported, the nation’s 44th commander in chief derided “woke” political purists and Twitter activists during remarks in Chicago at the Obama Foundation Summit last Tuesday. Obama said:
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. The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting may love their kids. And share certain things with you.
The former president’s comments largely drew bipartisan praise—with one notable exception.
In a New York Times opinion column, journalist Ernest Owens blasted Obama’s critique of “cancel culture” by calling the former president “powerful and privileged” and implying he is aligning himself with those who “stubbornly reject progress and refuse to show compassion,” namely “white straight men” and conservatives.
It’s telling that it’s the powerful and privileged people in society who are most agitated by this form of online activism, and most convinced that it represents unnecessary evil that is tearing away at our civil discourse. The group that Mr. Obama joins in his scolding of outspoken young people is dominated by white straight men, far-right conservative talking heads, and celebrities who feel entitled to audiences who appreciate their art and dutifully ignore their missteps. It’s no surprise that Fox News fretted that his comments were “snubbed” and didn’t receive sufficient coverage from broadcast television networks.
What people of Obama’s generation don’t understand — or don’t want to understand — about the ways in which younger people use the internet to make our values known, is that we’re not bullies going after people with “different opinions” for sport. Rather, we’re trying to push back against the bullies — influential people who have real potential to cause harm, or have already caused it. At the very least, we can speak up to send a message to vulnerable people that the bullies’ bigoted or backward views aren’t the only ones out there.
Owens also drew parallels between millennials blasting comedians like Dave Chappelle and Kevin Hart on Twitter for off-color jokes with the decades-long global movement to end South African apartheid and free Nelson Mandela.
No, we are not kidding. This is an actual article that made it past an editor and was published in the country’s so-called “paper of record.”
Of course, it is patently insane and self-aggrandizing to compare taking a break from your artisanal avocado toast in Tribeca to tweet that a joke perturbed your woke sensibilities with joining a worldwide campaign to end the kind of horrific racial segregation that was institutionalized in South Africa.
Apparently, neither Owens nor The New York Times noticed the comical absurdity of the comparison or their “wokescolding” of former President Obama.