With a sniper on the roof and Secret Service personnel all around on Friday, Marc Maron welcomed President Barack Obama to his Highland Park garage as a guest on his “WTF” podcast. After chit chat about Maron’s decorating abilities and Obama’s Occidental College days, the two got down to serious business to talk racism in America — an exchange that resulted in the president using the n-word.
“Racism, we are not cured of it,” Obama said. “And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say n– 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 200 to 300 years prior.” (The White House has released a statement about Obama’s comments, pointing out that this is not a unique occurrence and he also used this term in his memoir “Dreams From My Father”).
The comments came after Obama spoke of the horror of the South Carolina shooting, declaring again that “way too often” during his presidency, he’s had to “speak to the country and to speak to a particular community about a devastating loss.”
“It’s not enough just to feel bad,” he added. “There are actions that could be taken to make events like this less likely, and one of those actions we could take would be to enhance some basic comment sense about safety laws … there’s no other advanced nation on Earth that tolerates multiple shootings on a regular basis and considers it normal and, to some degree, that’s what’s happened in this country.”
He said that, because the NRA’s hold on Congress is so strong, he doesn’t believe gun laws will change until the public says to itself “this is not normal. This is something we can change.”
“The American people are, overwhelmingly, good, decent people,” said Obama. “Everybody that I meet believes in a lot of the same things … they believe in honesty, and family and community and looking out for each other … the problem is there is a big gap between who we are as a people and how our politics expresses itself.”
The conversation also included topics like health care, terrorism, how emotionally sick Obama felt after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and whether he feels the country is in a better place than when he took office. Obama’s trip to Los Angeles also included fundraising events at the houses of Chuck Lorre and Tyler Perry.