Obama Rebukes Identity Politics

Former President Barack Obama speaks at an event marking the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 17, 2018.

During a speech celebrating Nelson Mandela’s would-be 100th birthday, President Obama condemned the idea that only people from marginalized groups can comment on marginalized groups’ issues.

Obama made the comments when he was discussing the best way to interact with those with whom we disagree.

“Democracy demands that we’re able to also get inside the reality of people who are different than us, so we can understand their point of view,” he said. “Maybe we can change their minds, maybe they’ll change ours.”

“You can’t do this if you just out of hand disregard what your opponent has to say from the start,” he continued. “And you can’t do it if you insist that those who aren’t like you because they are white or they are male, somehow there is no way they can understand what I’m feeling, that somehow they lack standing to speak on certain matters.”

It might not seem like all that big of a deal, but what Obama did in that last statement was rebuke a way of thinking that has actually become quite pervasive in social-justice circles. In these circles, it’s often the case that men have no authority to speak out about certain issues…

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