Fact Check: Is Cancel Culture Obama’s Fault?

Fact Check: Is Cancel Culture Obama's Fault?

This past week, former President Barack Obama delivered a speech to his foundation’s annual summit that achieved the apparently impossible in our hyper-polarized political system — just about everyone agreed with it — on both sides of the political aisle.

Slamming the so-called “cancel culture” the Left has now embraced as a weapon, Obama warned young, politically active people that hysterical outrage against anyone who voices a “wrong” thought isn’t the way to achieve change. Some are saying Obama’s a hypocrite, though — that this vicious new form of politics grew out of his own presidency. How true is that?


  • “Cancel culture” is the deployment of threats, force or other attacks against people with different beliefs. Anyone who challenges the Left too boldly can expect to be abused on social media, no-platformed from colleges, and have a string of outraged liberals contacting their employer demanding they be fired.
  • Nobody is safe from this manufactured fake outrage and very real bullying — not even other liberals who deviate from the politically correct line. Comedian Ellen DeGeneres became a victim recently, simply for attending a football game with former President Bush. Nobody’s suggesting she agrees with Bush, but in the modern Liberal mind, just socializing with him justifies trying to destroy her career.
  • Obama hit out at this trend in his speech, saying:

“I do get a sense sometimes now among certain young people, and this is accelerated by social media, that the way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people. And that’s enough.

Like 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 cause ‘Man you see how woke I was, I called you out.’ That’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change.”

  • He also said that people who pride themselves on being politically “woke” should “get over that quickly.”
  • However, it’s easy to argue that it was Obama’s own administration that kick-started “cancel culture.” In 2009, he and his staff began a systematic series of attacks on Fox News and other conservative media outlets.
  • Obama oversaw a serious dialing-up of hostile rhetoric towards the political right. During his presidency it became acceptable to yell “Far-right!” or “Racist!” at anyone you disagreed with — not as a real accusation, just as a rhetorical weapon.
  • Under Obama, even the IRS was weaponized, carrying out extra government-ordered audits on conservative media and organizations.
  • Finally, Obama encouraged the hysterical opposition to President Trump, openly saying he was unfit to hold the office — even after he was elected!
  • It’s all well and good for Obama to criticize the current excesses of Liberals, but in reality, he played a big part in letting this culture grow. If he’s going to stand up now and condemn the online hate mobs devoted to silencing Conservative voices, he should also acknowledge his own role in making them think this behavior is acceptable.

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