President Barack Obama sat down for Marc Maron's WTF podcast this week, an informal chat in the comedian's garage which tends to involve Marc having a lengthy, open and candid chat with his guest.
This week it happened to be the President of the United States.
In the wake of the situation in Charleston, race was a topic discussed at length, and Obama made it clear that he feels that racism is an endemic problem and a lot bigger than positive viral videos and redefinitions of racial slurs:
"Racism, we are not cured of it. And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say n****r in public. That's not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It's not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don't, overnight, completely, erase everything that happened two to 300 years prior."
On Charleston and gun violence, he said:
"The point I made in the immediate aftermath of the killing was that I’ve done this way too often. During the course of my presidency, it feels as if a couple of times a year, I end up having to speak to the country and to a particular community about a devastating loss. The grieving that the country feels is real. The sympathy, the prioritizing, comforting the families — all that’s important. But I think part of the point I want to make was that it’s not enough just to feel bad. There are actions that could be taken to make events like this less likely. One of those actions we could take is to enhance some basic common sense safety laws — that by the way a majority of gun owners support. This is unique to our country. There is no other advanced nation on Earth that tolerates multiple shootings on a regular basis and considers it normal. To some degree, that’s what’s happened in this country. It’s become something that we expect."
And how America’s gun laws could evolve in the future:
"Unfortunately, the grip of the NRA on congress is extremely strong. I don’t foresee any legislative action being taken in this congress, and I don’t foresee any real action being taken until the American public feels a sufficient sense of urgency and they say to themselves this is not normal, this is something we can change, and we’ll change it. If you don’t have that kind of public voter pressure, it’s not going to change from the inside."
The pair also moved away from politics, discussing how the president spends his leisure time:
"I used to play basketball more, but these days I’ve gotten to the point where it’s not as much fun — I’m not as good as I used to be and I get frustrated. […] The guys I play with who are a lot younger, they sort of pity me. They tolerate me but we all know I’m the weak link on the court. I don’t like being the weak link."
He also declared himself a big fan of Louis CK (who incidentally also believes in using the N-word dependent on context). Saying on his favourite comedians:
"I love comedy. Richard Pryor. Dick Gregory, when he was really on the edge. Seinfeld is a different type. Louis C.K., I love. I think Louis is terrific. He’s wonderful in such a self deprecating and edgy kind of way. Basically good-hearted even when he’s saying stuff that’s pretty wrong. There’s a goodness about him that comes through."
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