Attacking “Professor” Obama

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Republicans including Sarah Palin have taken to attacking Barack Obama as a “professor.” Palin recently told a group of Tea Party activists, “we need a commander in chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern.” According to Inside Higher Ed, this line of attack taps into a long history of anti-intellectualism, stereotypes about higher-education, and possibly racism in American politics.

The “professor” label “implies dry, hectoring, unemotional, self important, all of the negative stereotypes of somebody who is vainly certain of his own superior mental capacities but doesn’t have a human connection,” Geoffrey Nunberg told Inside Higher Ed. The article also quotes experts who believe the attack resonates because of the racist undertones of portraying Obama as “different” and “not one of us.” The attacks may work in the short term–and among people pre-disposed to dislike Obama–but many believe the strategy won’t work in the long run. Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree says, “Do you want to tell your children we don’t want smart people in government?”

Source: Inside Higher Ed

Image by the Center for American Progress, licensed under Creative Commons.

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