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A Doctor in the White House

American journalist Joseph Epstein wrote a scathing article, as usual, in the Wall Street Journal, in which he lashed out at first lady-elect Jill Biden. The 84-year-old journalist opened his op-ed by referring to Dr. Jill Biden as a “kiddo.” He then continued to suggest that Mrs. Biden should relinquish her title of Dr. — which she received after completing her Ph.D. in education — since she isn’t worthy of it. Epstein is known for his hardline positions. Notably, he rejects the idea that Ph.D. holders in the fields of humanities and social sciences should be referred to as “doctors,” under the pretext that this undermines the value of “real” doctorate work in medicine and other life sciences. The column was met with angry reactions on social media platforms, including accusations that Epstein is a misogynist that discriminates against women. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. joined the crowd and reminded Epstein that her late father bore the title of Doctor — and that even though his title was non-medical, humanity still greatly benefited from his work. Similarly, Doug Imhoff, husband of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, commented that Dr. Jill Biden obtained her academic degrees with immense effort and lots of hard work, serving as a source of inspiration to many Americans. Megan McCain, daughter of late Republic Sen. John McCain, also responded with anger and accused Epstein of misogynistic tendencies. Northwestern University, where Epstein had been teaching until almost twenty years ago, also criticized the column and called out Epstein’s hypocrisy in criticizing figures like Dr. Jill Biden but not others like former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former presidential adviser Sebastian Gorka — both of whom carry the honorary degrees “Doctor.” Dr. Jill Biden, who is 69 years old, is nine years younger than her husband, Joe Biden. The two have been married since 1977, five years after the death of his first wife and infant daughter in an accident. She obtained her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of Delaware, then worked as an English-language teacher in local high schools. She stopped working for two years to take care of her children, and when she returned to work, she never left again, even when Joe Biden became vice president. Therefore, she is expected to continue working even after becoming the first lady. Epstein, however, seemed to have less respect for her career, by urging her to forgo her academic titles and stick to the honorary title of “first lady.” – Safia Mostafa Amin (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)