One election won’t stop US ‘truth decay’, says Barack Obama
Former US President Barack Obama emphasized that the US faces a huge task in reversing a culture of “crazy conspiracy theories” that have worsened divides in the country.
Obama said while giving an interview to an international news agency that the US is more sharply split than even four years ago when Donald Trump won the election.
However, he also said that Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 US election is just the beginning of repairing those divisions.
“It’ll take more than one election to reverse those trends,” he says.
Moreover, he argued that handling a polarized nation cannot be left only to the decisions of politicians, but also requires both structural change and people listening to one another – agreeing on a “common set of facts” before arguing what to do about them.
However, he says he sees “great hope” in the “sophisticated” attitudes of the next generation, urging young people to “cultivate that cautious optimism that the world can change” and “to be a part of that change”.
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Furthermore, Obama also talked about immigration resentment. He said that Anger and resentment between rural and urban America, immigration, injustices like inequality, and “the kinds of crazy conspiracy theories – what some have called truth decay” have been amplified by some US media outlets and “turbocharged by social media”.
“We are very divided right now, certainly more than we were when I first ran for office in 2007 and won the presidency in 2008,” He suggests that this is, in part, attributable to Mr. Trump’s willingness to “fan division because it was good for his politics”.
On the contrary, something else that has contributed much to the issue is the spread of misinformation where facts do not matter, said Obama.
“There are millions of people who subscribed to the notion that Joe Biden is a socialist, who subscribed to the notion that Hillary Clinton was part of an evil cabal that was involved in pedophile rings,” he says.
“I think at some point it’s going to require a combination of regulation and standards within industries to get us back to the point where we at least recognize a common set of facts before we start arguing about what we should do about those facts.”
Mr. Obama says that while many conventional mainstream media outlets have embraced fact-checking in recent years in an effort to tackle the spread of misinformation online, it is often not enough because “falsehoods had already circled the globe by the time truth got out of the gates”.He says the division is also a result of socio-economic factors such as increasing inequality and disparities between rural and urban America.
He added that such matters are “paralleled in the UK and around the world” with “people feeling as if they’re losing a grip on the ladder of economic advancement and so react and can be persuaded that it’s this group’s fault or that group’s fault”.
What did Barack Obama talk about racism?
Mr. Obama sheds light on black lives matter. He said that the issue of race has been “one of the central fault lines in American history – our original sin”.
The events that unfolded over the summer, including the death of George Floyd – a black man who died in police custody – and the response to his death from communities not just in the US but around the world, created moments of both despair and optimism, he says.
“Despair that the chronic lingering role of race and bias in our criminal justice system continues in such a blatant form… enormous optimism that you saw an outpouring of protest activism and interest that far exceeded anything we had seen previously – and was peaceful.”
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