Obama on political correctness: ‘Don’t go around just looking for insults’

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President Obama acknowledges some on the left use political correctness to shut down debate over legitimate issues, a problem he says has hurt political discourse. 

The president expressed concern during an interview with NPR that debates become “like walking on eggshells” when people feel social pressure to hold back their point of view.

“If somebody says, ‘You know what, I’m not sure affirmative action is the right way to solve racial problems in this country,’ and they’re immediately accused of being racist, well, then I think you have a point,” Obama said when asked if he agrees with President-elect Donald Trump that political correctness has gone too far. 

Obama said he’s given the same advice to his daughters, Malia and Sasha, as they prepare to go off to college. 

{mosads}”My advice to progressives like myself, and this is advice I give my own daughters … is don’t go around just looking for insults,” he said. “You’re tough. If somebody says something you don’t agree with, just engage them on their ideas. 

“But you don’t have to feel that somehow because you’re a black woman that you’re being assaulted.” 

The president said conservatives, and not just liberals, are guilty of using political correctness, citing accusations from some on the right that he’s waged a war on Christmas. 

“You’ll hear somebody like a Rush Limbaugh, or other conservative commentators … who are very quick to jump on any evidence of progressives being ‘politically correct’ but who are constantly aggrieved and hypersensitive about the things they care about,” he said. 

Trump’s victory in November shocked liberals on both coasts who believed that his string of inflammatory comments about women, Muslims and immigrants would doom his candidacy. 

It sparked a nationwide debate over whether coastal liberals became disconnected from the middle of the country, which was parodied in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch after the election. 

But Obama made it clear he doesn’t believe racism, sexism or homophobia should be dismissed as political incorrectness.  

“I don’t consider that political correctness,” the president said of objections to those types of comments. “I consider that good manners, sound values and hard-fought gains in the nature of American society and American community.

“I think it’s a good thing that we don’t think that using the N-word is socially acceptable,” he continued. 

“I think it’s a good thing that we don’t refer to women in derogatory ways — because I have a couple of daughters, and I don’t want them to feel that way.”

He said he told Malia and Sasha if they hear something insulting “feel free to say to that guy, ‘You know what? You’re rude,’ or, ‘You’re ignorant,’ and take them on.”

Obama added that he’s received letters after the election from Muslim and Latino students who say they feel marginalized. 

“Those are the most worrisome and those are ones where I respond and say that you have to have faith in the basic goodness of this country and that it outweighs the bad,” he said. 

Obama has spoken out against political correctness before, saying last year that college students should not be “coddled” from hearing opposing views.

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