My RedState colleague Nick Arama reported Sunday on the phony “outrage” generated over the weekend by a Wall Street Journal column penned by writer/lecturer Joseph Epstein in which he argued that Jill Biden should drop the “doctor” from her name because she wasn’t actually a medical doctor.
It’s the first paragraph in the rather lengthy piece he wrote that prompted the most backlash, including from Mrs. Biden, her staff, other Democrats, and some in the mainstream media (but I repeat myself). Here’s what he said that greatly fauxfended the politically correct:
Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the “Dr.” before your name? “Dr. Jill Biden” sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic. Your degree is, I believe, an Ed.D., a doctor of education, earned at the University of Delaware through a dissertation with the unpromising title “Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs.” A wise man once said that no one should call himself “Dr.” unless he has delivered a child. Think about it, Dr. Jill, and forthwith drop the doc.
Later in the piece, he went on to note that “the prestige of honorary doctorates has declined” over the last few decades for a few reasons, with one of them being ” the erosion of seriousness and the relaxation of standards in university education generally, at any rate outside the sciences.” The other one Epstein noted was due to how “rich men entered the lists, usually in the hope that they would donate money to the schools that had granted them their honorary degrees.”
The fact that Epstein was an equal opportunity critic when it came to both men and women (including male celebrities) who he believed should not hold the title of “doctor” was ignored by the perpetually outraged on the left and in academic circles, both of who proceeded to call him a misogynist and cancel him because narratives and what not.
While I’ll admit the debate over the use of the title “doctor” by the Ph.D and Ed.D crowd is not my hill to die on, cancel culture and the dishonest playing of the woman/sexism card over these types of criticisms are. I was seriously impressed by the response to the outcry over the piece by the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page editor Paul Gigot, who ripped critics a new one for what he called predictable efforts by the left and their mainstream media allies to stifle criticism, just as they did over the Hunter Biden story:
Why go to such lengths to highlight a single op-ed on a relatively minor issue? My guess is that the Biden team concluded it was a chance to use the big gun of identity politics to send a message to critics as it prepares to take power. There’s nothing like playing the race or gender card to stifle criticism. It’s the left’s version of Donald Trump’s “enemy of the people” tweets.
The difference is that when Mr. Trump rants against the press, the press mobilizes in opposition. In this case the Biden team was able to mobilize almost all of the press to join in denouncing Mr. Epstein and the Journal. Nearly every publication wrote about the Biden response, reinforcing the Biden-New York Times line: “An Opinion Writer Argued Jill Biden Should Drop the ‘Dr.’ (Few Were Swayed.)”
This strategy worked to protect Joe and Hunter Biden during the campaign, so it’s no surprise that they’re keeping it up as they head to the White House.
He further went on to note that Epstein’s “piece was fair comment”, pointing out that the debate over use of the term “doctor” to describe non-doctors was not a new one:
The issue of Jill Biden’s educational honorific isn’t new. As long ago as 2009, the Los Angeles Times devoted a story to the subject. From the piece by Robin Abcarian: “Joe Biden, on the campaign trail, explained that his wife’s desire for the highest degree was in response to what she perceived as her second-class status on their mail. ‘She said, “I was so sick of the mail coming to Sen. and Mrs. Biden. I wanted to get mail addressed to Dr. and Sen. Biden.” That’s the real reason she got her doctorate,’ he said.”
Gigot concluded that the pushback to the piece was not in any way going to persuade him to stop publishing provocative pieces that might offend the delicate sensibilities of the Usual Suspects on the left, in the media, and in academia:
If you disagree with Mr. Epstein, fair enough. Write a letter or shout your objections on Twitter. But these pages aren’t going to stop publishing provocative essays merely because they offend the new administration or the political censors in the media and academe. And since it’s a time to heal, we’ll give the Biden crowd a mulligan for their attacks on us.
In a country filled with media figures who are willing to bend over backward (or forward in some instances, if you catch my drift) to please their cherished Democratic icons, this was a refreshing response.
I’ll also add that what people should really be offended about here is the left’s latest attempt to designate a powerful female Democrat as off-limits from criticism. It sets true feminism back 100 years when people continue insisting that all criticism of women (in particular Democratic women) boils down to sexism, and it’s especially insulting when the very person they’re accusing of sexism also argued that men were just as guilty of using the term when they shouldn’t be.
Sometimes criticism is just criticism, and nothing more than that. That we’re still defaulting to “misogynist!” when a woman is criticized shows we’ve still got a long way to go to be truly considered equal rather than merely special snowflakes, and – ironically – we’re having to wait longer on that front thanks to the very party that proclaims to be the true champions and defenders of women.