Barack Obama disses woke culture!

October 31, 2019 • 8:30 am

Well, cut off my legs and call me Shorty!  Former President Barack Obama made some pungent remarks about Woke Youth. What he said is reported by the BBC (click on screenshot):

From the report:

Former US President Barack Obama has challenged “woke” culture telling young people: “The world is messy.”

He made the comments at the Obama Foundation’s annual summit in Chicago on Tuesday.

Mr Obama said that calling people out on social media did not bring about change, and that change was complex.

“Woke” is described as being alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice, along with being aware of what’s going on in the community.

I’m not sure whose definition of “woke” that is, but I would modify the definition above by changing “alert” to “overly alert”, as there’s nothing to challenge about being alert to injustice. What bothers me is the degree of vigilance and policing, the solipsism of emphasizing oneself as a victim (or of shaming oneself as privileged), and the concentration of attention solely on one’s local situation, like your college, instead of national or international issues.

But Obama continued with the woke-shaming:

Mr Obama told the audience: “I get a sense among certain young people on social media that the way of making change is to be as judgemental as possible about other people.

“If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself because ‘Man did you see how woke I was? I called you out!'”

“That’s enough,” he said. “If all you’re doing is casting stones, you are probably not going to get that far.”

Mr Obama added that “people who do really good stuff have flaws”.

That much should be obvious, but true wokeness is like a religion, impervious to the obvious.

But wait! There’s more!

. . . Last April, [Obama] told a crowd at an Obama Foundation event in Berlin: “One of the things I do worry about among progressives in the United States, maybe it’s true here as well, is a certain kind of rigidity where we say ‘Uh, 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 has strayed from purity on the issues.”

Jen Psaki, former Obama White House communications director, told CNN that she believed Mr Obama’s most recent comments were a message for the Democratic Party and those running for election.

“If we are launching purity tests, we are going to have such a small party and will not be able to win. Governing is not about saying: ‘You don’t agree with me, then you can’t be part of the conversation.'”

This, of course, is the way the authoritarian left will govern, as evidenced by remarks like these.

And here’s a tweet showing the ex-Prez speaking truth to offense:

This reminds me of some lines from Don McLean’s song, “Vincent”, about van Gogh:

They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now.

But, more realistically, the song ends like this:

They would not listen, they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will.
That’s my prediction. Somehow the Woke will resolve the cognitive dissonance Obama’s words should cause. One way is simply to dismiss the former President as someone who’s leaning Right.

75 thoughts on “Barack Obama disses woke culture!

  1. Went on Twitter and the reaction seemed to be made up solely of Bernie Sanders supporters calling Obama an irrelevance and a warmonger.

    I think the phrase is “touched a nerve”.

    1. ” . . . Bernie Sanders supporters calling Obama an irrelevance . . . .”

      “Irrelevance” to whom or what? People who employ this locution never say.

    1. That was already happening. If you’ve spent much time discussing the democratic primary with those leaning far left, they don’t like Obama and they label both him and Clinton as right-leaning, basically Republicans.
      I think everyone likes to see themselves in the middle, or at least representing the majority, even when it is entirely untrue.

    2. Indeed, sanity not allowed. If the Dems go all-woke, they will condemn themselves to permanent irrelevance.

      Real people (who vote) recognize this crap for what it is.

      I think I recently heard this in a Sam Harris podcast: View your adversary (or ally!) in as charitable a light as you can. Steel-man their ideas. Don’t assume bad intent when you strongly disagree, when a mistake is more likely, in most cases. (Incompetence is much more common than malice.)

          1. Much as I like Obama, and I like him a lot, my main critique of his presidency is that he was too slow to recognize, and respond to, Republican malice.

            1. Yes, he was rather passive on that. And the Dems seem to all play by adult rules while the GOPs do whatever (and then have the nerve to try to wrap themselves in “morality”!).

              1. And by the time he recognised it, the malice, the midterms of 2010 had castrated him.
                He was way too naive (with the comfort of hindsight, of course).
                He still ranks among the top 10 (if not top 4) US presidents for me though, with all his faults and shortcomings.

              2. And, to boot, he was considered by certain omniscients too “professorial.” How awful.

                When he was first elected, there were murmurings about whether he was “black enough.” Has the final verdict come in on that?

      1. The vast majority of people I know have never voted for anyone but Democrats in their entire lives, watch MSNBC, etc. and even they all think woke culture is a joke. They’re also sick of getting politics shoved down their throat at every moment — even if it’s their own politics — from reading the NYT to speeches hearing the speeches at the Oscars to every big new TV show desperately trying to be as woke as possible.

        1. Right-wing Republican is the mildest charge that acolytes of the pop-Left make against Obama. Shortly after the 2016 election, Counterpunch ran an illustrative piece by the former vice-pres candidate of the Green Party. He explained that the dire fascism facing the country under Trump would just be an extension of Obama’s fascism.

          1. When I go on Youtube I’m bombarded by pro-Trump, conservative channels. There seem to be a lot more of them than pro-left ones.

            Worse, when I actually bother to check out the pro-left YT channels their talking points are indistinguishable from the pro-Trump ones.
            Every single video is a hit job on a Democratic candidate. Endless videos about ‘Biden gets OWNED at townhall’, ‘Buttigieg humiliated’, ‘Warren EXPOSED’, etc. (Nothing on St Bernie obviously.)

            YT viewers apparently absolutely despise nuance, and want only the most extreme opinions on everything. As a result almost every left-wing channel is…how do you say it? …Insane, that’s the word.

    3. The boat has sailed on that. They’ve been calling him a ‘warmonger’ and a ‘corporatist neolib shill'(there must be a Bernie-bro dialogue-generation algorithm out there somewhere) ever since he got into power.

      Translated into normal language it always amounts to ‘stop being so electable’.

    4. He is such, more or less, like the mainstream of the Democrats (and all Republicans). Is he right about the matter, though? Largely.

      The problem, then, is not that someone is plutocratic per se, but rather that he is not listened to because he is in a matter where it does not matter.

  2. They should listen to Obama or risk soon becoming irrelevant. Right now on the house floor they are debating before the vote to go forward with the impeachment. Pelosi is saying her two cents now.

    Again, glad to see what Twitter CEO did, getting rid of political ads. The Trumpets already blasted it.

    1. “Again, glad to see what Twitter CEO did, getting rid of political ads. The Trumpets already blasted it.”

      Apropos of that…it’s a bit concerning to me that our side has been playing it(relatively) polite and restrained while conservatives ‘work the ref’ re. social media like you wouldn’t believe.

      The amount of whining they come out with about ‘shadowbanning’ and ‘bias against conservatives’ – even though there’s no real evidence to support any of it – is absolutely amazing.

      I can see it’s having an effect too, because someone like Jack Dorsey now has to go out of his way to reassure and placate all the QAnon dimwits who’ve seen their favourite white supremacist Twitter feed pulled down.

      ‘Working the referee’ is a perfect description of what they’re doing – we don’t really have an equivalent phrase in British-English.

      They know deep down that they have no real grounds to complain about social media mistreatment but they’ll do it anyway because it puts the referee(in this case all the social media companies) on the back foot, and gives conservatives leeway in the future.

      Jose Mourinho used to do it all the time when he managed Chelsea. It really works.

      1. Oh yeah, it sure did work for Mourinho, didn’t it? But that wasn’t his only skill. I hear he’s interested in a job at Arsenal (they need someone). As a Liverpool supporter, I hope he doesn’t return to the Premier League. He has a way of winning trophies.

        1. As a Utd supporter I find it hard to talk about football at all. Stuck in limbo with a dimwit leading our team – we’re just waiting for him to resign once things get really bad. It’s like being a Labour remainer. Drifting into obscurity while the opposition consolidates.

          I like Ole but he’s dramatically unqualified for this job.

          Mourinho’s a busted flush imo. His particular MO of extreme footballing conservatism doesn’t really appeal to any of the big clubs or their fans, and he’s too big of an ego to go to any of the smaller clubs.

          I’d still take him back at Utd unfortunately.

        1. Not unless you say that Twitter is also biased against the left – after all, I’ve heard exactly the same claims coming from the far left about being banned unfairly.

          And the right talk about some grand, sweeping policy that systemically targets conservatives. The truth most of the time is that the people banned are banned for saying things that are mental or genocidal.

          Of course any social media platform that hosts tens of millions of people is going to fuck up now and then, and make mistakes, but bias? No I don’t think so.
          I think the fact that we’re even discussing it is a victory for conservatives considering how scant their evidence is.

          And it might behoove some of these people to just behave a little less shittily when they’re online. Most of the plaints from the right(and the far-left) come down to ‘why won’t you let me incite mass harassment against whoever I want?’.

          1. Megan Murphy was banned for a tweet that read “yeah, it’s him”, merely confirming to someone else that Jessica/Jonathan Yaniv was indeed the Canadian suing waxing salons. Can you give examples of someone from the far-left being banned for similarly trite reasons?

            1. A few things here:

              1. You’ve given me a single example of someone being banned, and you’ve given me no evidence whatsoever that this person was banned for being a right-winger rather than as a simple mistake or any number of other explanations.
              There are literally billions of human beings on social media. The ‘evidence’ from the right about some grand policy to censor them is either anecdotal or comically specious.

              2. It took me six or seven seconds to search google and find this: I didn’t bother looking any further in the search results because that serves to illustrate my point. Dozens of far-left twitter users banned for no apparent reason.

              Notice how I am not claiming some kind of systemic bias against the left. I could, and so could other liberals. We could comb through the accounts of our allies, identify instances where people were banned for no good reason and spin out some grand conspiracy of bias against the liberal-left. But liberals don’t tend to do this. Why?
              Because this is a situation in which lying opportunists with a persecution complex are rewarded with attention and articles supporting their bullshit, while reasonable people are not.

              The right are working the ref, nothing more.

  3. > sigh < Makes one nostalgic for the days when a President could speak in complete and logical sentences.

    1. Or speak extemporaneously in full paragraphs and compact, verbal essays!

      (As opposed to spewing narcissistic drivel stream-of-consciousness, as we have now.)

    1. “I’m old enough to remember when presidents were articulate so get off of my lawn.” –Everyone, even babies.

    2. With a very restricted set of topics and with sugary pep talks, I suppose Reagan could be called articulate, at least in the USian context. There I suppose it’s even a required skill for college football coaches.

      1. That crossed my mind too. Remember when we all used to make fun of Dubya?

        But he was a stable genius compared with the tRump.


    3. In the GWB case, though, I think we have another, especially when he was ill-prepared or emotional. (Think of his first after 9/11 speech.) Of course, Trump is another league altogether sometimes.

          1. It’ll be great when you can just sit back and enjoy these videos of Trump trying to speak like a normal human, instead of cringe in horror. Once he’s gone I think we can start to talk about, and appreciate, his unintentional comic brilliance.

          1. So many don’t seem to understand what the job of a politician is, and they don’t understand that in order to do that job they have to have verbal CONGRESS (I’m assuming that’s why the Founding Fathers called it that) with those with different opinions to them and reach a compromise. No one gets everything they want, but usually legislation is better because of that.

            The Woke are acting just like the Tea Party, who in 2008 announced they were not compromising on anything. They said they were elected on a certain set of principles, completely forgetting that none of them received 100% of the vote, and again, what the job of a politician is.

            The far left and the far right have far more in common with each other than the centre of either party, and the centre is the majority of both parties.

            And the far left and the far right both say that they always lose when they put forward a candidate who is a centrist, and it’s time for someone who’s further to the right or left, depending on their preference. They completely ignore the fact that they always win when they put forward a centrist candidate too.

      1. Listen to some of the Kennedys’ speeches from the 1960s. Quoting Aeschylus.

        Trump couldn’t find Greece on a map of the world or state what language is spoken there.

        1. And I thought it was bad when Dubya referred to the natives of Greece as “Grecians.”

          O for such halcyon days again!

            1. Oh, agreed. (Ditto with Ronnie Reagan, of course).

              The general consensus seems to be that Dubya was manipulated by his ‘advisors’, and otherwise would have been a fairly innocuous Prez.

              I suppose one tiny mitigating aspect of the tRump is that his ego is so great he’s quite capable of ignoring and/or firing his ‘advisors’ at will. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad one depends on the immediate circumstances at the time, of course.


  4. Fine points, but (luckily for you) no need to cut your legs off. Obama has always been a unifier at heart like MLK, not a divider at heart like the wokes. Take these quote from the 2006 Audacity of Hope:

    “I’ve never had the option of restricting my loyalties on the basis of race, or measuring my worth on the basis of tribe … I reject politics that is based solely on racial identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or victimhood generally.”

    “Left and right have become mirror images of each other. There are stories of conspiracy, of America being hijacked by an evil cabal … Their purpose is not to persuade the other side but to keep their bases agitated … to beat the other side into submission … what has been lost in the process … are those shared assumptions – that quality of trust and fellow feeling – that brings us together as Americans.”

  5. I’m mildly optimistic about the whole “woke” movement. I’ve seen many political fads come and go. I think “woke” has a shelf life.

  6. Every time Obama opens his mouth, I feel like I am hearing a grown up talk, whether I agree with him or not.

    He is the only Establishment pol I can think of that evokes that reaction. Trump acts like a 3 year old on a temper tantrum, and his opposition act like a toddler with a dirty Ukrainian diaper who is miserable but fighting being changed.

    1. And the Woke (Or as they like to think of themselves ‘People of Modern Sensibilities’.) are not much better, after all they came up with the idea that ‘Adult’ is a verb.

  7. Just for the record, I posted a link to the BBC’s report on Obama’s comments about Woke culture yesterday during the discussion about said culture and Halloween costumes at the University of Texas. But I make so many inane comments at WEIT that it slipped under the radar – I must try to comment more selectively!

      1. I saw it too, in fact when I saw the title of this post I assumed that’s where PCC got the tipoff from (though I could be worng on that, obviously)


        1. Thanks, guys.

          Obama is being mentioned in the news again here in the UK: when he said during the 2016 EU referendum that the UK would be at “the back of the queue” he was heavily criticized for interfering in our domestic politics. Today, Trump has explicitly weighed in on our general election. I’m not quite sure where he thinks US interference in other countries’ affairs should end, but I suspect that his interventions will have the opposite effect to the one he intends. (Unless, of course, one of the reasons that Moscow wanted Trump elected was so that he could diss Jeremy Corbyn, thereby boosting him and getting Moscow’s preferred candidate elected in the UK… And Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings spent some formative years in post-Soviet Russia, of course, so maybe the Kremlin wins either way… Yikes, those Russian chess grandmasters think so many moves ahead that my brain hurts.)

          1. I usually go with the ‘cock-up, not conspiracy’ theory of history. That is, never suspect conspiracy where incompetence is an adequate explanation.

            In the current context, if anybody in Russia can predict the outcoming of the witch’s brew that is current US or UK politics, they’re orders of magnitude ahead of any political scientists anywhere else in the world…


  8. The limited Twitter reaction I’ve seen to this among the “woke” people I follow gives me dismay: they’re treating the comments as a denial that anyone should have hope for a better future. Which to me is entirely the problem – there’s no ability to disagree anymore because they’ve defined their beliefs as the only beliefs that can be had.

    It should be fairly obvious to anyone who isn’t bound and blinded by their moral convictions that an open society requires dealing with moral plurality, moral disagreement, and getting on with life even when the discussion is intractable.

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