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Obama Calls for More Campus Tolerance — From the Left

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"Feel free to disagree with somebody, but don’t try to just shut them up."

President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. Obama is trying to put Republicans on defense in the U.S. debate over gun rights with a call to ban people on the governments no-fly list from buying firearms. The trouble is his proposal may be unconstitutional. (Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

President Barack Obama called for the college campus left to be more tolerant of differing viewpoints during an interview with National Public Radio.

In his sit-down with the president, which was aired Monday, reporter Steven Inskeep asked Obama about protests from students at Harvard and Yale to get rid of symbols related to slave owners.

"I think it's a healthy thing for young people to be engaged and to question authority and to ask why this instead of that, to ask tough questions about social justice. So I don't want to discourage kids from doing that," Obama said. "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."

Inskeep followed, "Meaning listen to people that you might initially think are bigoted?"

"There have been times where you start seeing on college campuses students protesting somebody like the director of the IMF or Condi Rice speaking on a campus because they don't like what they stand for," Obama said. "Well, feel free to disagree with somebody, but don't try to just shut them up."

"If somebody doesn't believe in affirmative action, they may disagree — you may disagree with them. I disagree with them, but have an argument with them," Obama said. "It is possible for somebody not to be racist and want a just society but believe that that is something that is inconsistent with the Constitution. And you should engage."

"My concern is not whether there is campus activism. I think that's a good thing," Obama added. "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."

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