Monday on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, the most racially divisive president in American history declared that this country still hasn’t overcome its legacy of colonialism, slavery, and Jim Crow laws.
Host Trevor Noah had asked Barack Obama about race, naturally, because the left is obsessed with it -- not getting beyond it, but keeping racial grievances alive and keeping that tension in the forefront of everyone's consciousness. Asked how he managed to deliver his “true opinions” on race while avoiding alienating people, Obama responded,
You know, my general theory is that, if I was clear in my own mind about who I was, comfortable in my own skin and had clarity about the way in which race continues to be this powerful factor in so many elements of our lives. But, that it is not the only factor in so many aspects of our lives, that we have, by no means overcome the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow and colonialism and racism, but that the progress we’ve made has been real and extraordinary — if I’m communicating my genuine belief that those who are not subject to racism can sometimes have blind spots or lack of appreciation of what it feels to be on the receiving end of that, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not open to learning and caring about equality and justice and that I can win them over because there is goodness in the majority of people.
Obama went on to say that he has never had to bite his tongue as President, but he has pondered how to deliver certain messages "diplomatically" and "in a way that it’s received”:
So there have been very few instances where I’ve said, “Well, that was racist, you are racist.” There have been times where I’ve said, “You know, you might not have taken into account the ongoing legacy of racism in why we have so many black men incarcerated. And since I know that you believe in the Constitution and believe in justice and believe in liberty, how about if we try this?”
The notion that Obama believes in the Constitution, which he has described as a flawed, living document, is laughable -- as is the notion that "so many black men" are incarcerated because they are victims of racism. How about if we try this, President Obama: acknowledging that those men are in prison because they were convicted of crimes?
Now, some might say, well, you’re not speaking fully truth to power because of that diplomacy. But I don’t think that trying to appeal to the better angels of our nature, as Lincoln put it, is somehow compromised. There may be times where you just have to call things out and name names.
Like when he said that the Cambridge police "acted stupidly" for arresting his friend, black cademic Henry Louis Gates?
But the challenge we face today, when it comes to race, is rarely the overt Klansman-style racism and typically has more to do with the fact that, you know, people got other stuff they want to talk about and it’s sort of uncomfortable.
The fact that overt Klansman-style racism is rare would seem to be an indication that this country has overcome its legacy of slavery. And perhaps people don't want to talk about racism all the time because that's not how you solve it.
It’s somebody not getting called back for an interview, although it’s never explicit. Or it’s, you know, who gets the TV acting job, the actress who doesn’t quite look the part, and what does that mean? And in that environment, where you’re not talking necessarily about cut and dried racist behavior, but rather about the complex ways in which society is working these issues through, you know — trying to reach folks in ways that they can hear, I think, is important.
And, I would add, everybody’s got a different role to play. If Chris Rock’s doing stand-up, then there is a benefit to him doing something that is different from the president of the United States doing something. For one thing, you know, he doesn’t have to edit his language quite as carefully because I am still subject to, you know, some restraints — those seven words George Carlin talked about, I can’t use those, as a general proposition because a lot of children are watching. I try to comport myself in a way that my mother would approve of.
(Transcript thanks to Breitbart)