Academics Celebrate Obama Prematurely

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Even given the longstanding urge of academics to treat Democratic presidents the way the Catholic Church once treated saints, the academic Left may have been a bit hasty when it rushed to canonize the current occupant of the White House.  “When I still taught there, I’d walk past classrooms at Georgia Perimeter College and hear Obama’s speeches played for students,” Mary Grabar remembers. “Professors took entire classes to watch his inauguration in the assembly hall.”

“They had Obama-Biden campaign material tacked up on the doors of their offices.” Grabar currently teaches at Emory.

“For fall semester 2012, freshmen at Emory University can fulfill composition requirements by enrolling in ENG 101: ‘Barack Obama’s Fighting Words: Interpreting Rhetoric in Historical Contexts,’” Grabar reports. “The course promises to focus on Obama’s ‘most important speeches between his 2008 and 2012 presidential bids’ and to compare them to speeches of ‘other historically significant figures,’ like Abraham Lincoln, Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. DuBois, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jeremiah Wright, and Hillary Clinton.”

“Required ‘textbooks’ include Obama’s two autobiographies and a collection of his speeches, titled Words That Changed a Nation: The Most Celebrated and Influential Speeches of Barack Obama and Power in Words: The Stories behind Barack Obama’s Speeches from the State House to the White House.”

Nor are the Peach State’s universities by any means alone in their enthusiasm for the audacious dreamer in chief: “In the spring of 2010, the University of Kansas, Lawrence, offered ENGL 340, ‘Barack Obama and the African American Rhetorical Tradition,” Grabar observes.

Moreover, one does not have to wait until one’s college years to become immersed in Obama studies. “The eighth-grade McDougal Littell Literature textbook, published in 2008, had a 15-page spread on Obama,” Grabar relates.

Grabar has co-authored, with Brian Birdnow, a guide book for students entitled “A New Beginning or a Revised Past?”  The guide features an extensive analysis of the president’s famous Cairo speech, in which he attempted to put America’s mid-East policies on reset.  Birdnow is an adjunct professor of history at two Missouri institutions—Lindenwood University and Harris Stowe State University.

The Cairo speech is a particular favorite of professors, even as the Obama Administration’s own approach to the Mid-East is yielding, at best, mixed results. “Three years after outlining his vision for better relations with the Arab and Muslim world, President Barack Obama finds his administration struggling to find its footing and a unifying strategy to deal with the fallout of the Arab Spring that dislodged dictators and touched off seismic shifts in the region’s politics,” Lesley Clark of the McClatchy Newspapers wrote in an article which appeared in Stars and Stripes. “Civil war rages in Syria, where Iran has moved in to help dictator Bashar Assad while the United States has stood back.”

“ In Libya, where the U.S. did help oust a dictator, four Americans were slain last week in an assault on the U.S. consulate. And in Egypt, where the U.S. helped oust a longtime ally, protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy, breaching its walls and burning American flags.”

“The death at the Benghazi consulate of Ambassador Christopher Stevens has thrust foreign policy into the presidential race, sparked concerns over the quality of the administration’s intelligence-gathering and raised questions about the risks of sending U.S. diplomats into troubled areas to promote democracy.”

Stars and Stripes is “the U.S. military’s independent news source, featuring exclusive reports from Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe and the Far East.”

 

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org.

 

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