President Barack Obama is expanding his discussion about modern progressives on college campuses.
During an interview on National Public Radio, he advised college students to debate ideas instead of simply raising grievances and trying to silence the opposing side.
“My advice to progressives like myself, and this is advice I give my own daughters who are about to head off to college, 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.”
The president spoke about his daughter Malia preparing for college at Harvard, and that he encouraged her to debate people with ideas she disagreed with.
“[Y]ou don’t have to feel that somehow because you’re a black woman that you’re being assaulted,” he said. “But speak up for yourself, and if you hear somebody saying something that’s insulting, feel free to say to that guy, ‘You know what? You’re rude’ or ‘you’re ignorant’ and take them on.”
Obama said that racial epithets about people of color and derogatory comments about women and gays made people feel like “less” American, but that he didn’t view that as being “politically correct.”
“I don’t consider that political correctness. I consider that good manners, sound values and hard-fought gains in the nature of American society and American community,” he said.
The president has stood up for the exchange of ideas on campus, particularly for Republican speakers.
“As I’ve said before, I do think that there have been times on college campuses where I get concerned that the unwillingness to hear other points of view can be as unhealthy on the left as on the right,” he said in 2015, pointing to an instance where college students at Rutgers forced former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to cancel an appearance at the college.
Obama also suggested in 2015 that some groups of student protesters failed to act respectfully in their protests of campus administrators.
“My concern is not whether there is campus activism,” Obama said. “I think that’s a good thing. But let kids ask questions and let universities respond. What I don’t want is a situation in which particular points of view that are presented respectfully and reasonably are shut down, and we have seen that sometimes happen.”