At the height of early-1990s conservative backlash over political correctness and “speech codes” on U.S. college campuses, Barack Obama participated in a panel event geared toward denying that restrictions on free expression were problematic, or happening at all.
The 1991 Harvard Law School yearbook quoted the future President of the United States virtually shrugging his shoulders at the thought that non-liberal white students might take offense at restrictions on speech that minority students found objectionable. “I don’t see a lot of conservatives getting upset if minorities feel silenced,” Obama said, flipping the argument around.
The ACLU’s John Powell denied political correctness led to a silencing effect, calling it impossible that “the dominant, white majority on college campuses is being silenced by the small number of minority and feminist students.”
Sally Greenberg of the Anti-Defamation League called for bans on “hate speech.” Professor Richard Parker, who taught Obama in 1989, wanted to punish only speech that was “intentional, persistent, pure, and patent abuse.”