Calling Obama 'Professor' Is Palin Code for 'Uppity': Prof

Palin's brainy slam is really a racist slam, says longtime pal

By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 11, 2010 4:44 AM CST | Updated Feb 11, 2010 6:30 AM CST

(Newser) – When Sarah Palin told Tea Party activists last week that President Obama was "a professor of law standing at the lectern," she wasn't just tapping into populist anti-intellectualism—she was also making a not-so-subtle attack on the president's race. So says Harvard professor and longtime Obama pal Charles Ogletree, who tells Inside Higher Ed that calling Obama "the professor" is close to labeling him 'uppity.'"

Other slurs against Obama—left wing, socialist, palling around with terrorists—"were buzzwords. But the reality was they were looking at this president as an African American who was out of place,” Ogletree says. History professor Thomas Haskell agrees with Ogletree that Americans inclined to feel "frightened" of intellectuals may feel especially uncomfortable "because this particular intellectual is black."

President Barack Obama speaks at a Black History Month event celebrating the music of the Civil Rights Movement in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010.
President Barack Obama speaks at a Black History Month event celebrating the music of the Civil Rights Movement in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama talks to reporters following his meeting appealing for bipartisanship on fixing the economy, in the White House press briefing room in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010.
President Barack Obama talks to reporters following his meeting appealing for bipartisanship on fixing the economy, in the White House press briefing room in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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I think anyone who examines it closely will see this type of criticism of Obama will ultimately be counterproductive. Do you want to tell your children we don’t want smart people in government? - Harvard prof and longtime Obama pal Charles Ogletree

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