I was reading yet another piece about Republican efforts to demonize college professors– in this case, by targeting Labor Studies professors– and thinking about why the right-wing hates teachers so much (“Groups Investigating E-Mails of Professors in Michigan and Wisconsin Produce No Evidence of Wrongdoing“). Luckily, this particular witch hunt has so far failed to find anything that might be used to drum up the sorts of fear and anger that have made the right-wing so effective in recent years.
At one level, this is very straightforward hardball politics, similar to the ongoing efforts to restrict voter registration. If you can demonize government officials, you can by extension make it easier to destroy the last real bastion of organized labor. If you can destroy or undermine organized labor, you can undermine the democratic party and so retard social progress. Social progress, of course, is anathema to the right because it by definition shifts wealth away from the rich and powerful and to the rest of us.
It’s also a part of the right’s embrace of anti-intellectualism, which it confuses (perhaps deliberately) with populism. You can’t believe in global warming, or evolution because that would suggest support for the people “behind” these things, the intellectuals, that is, the scientists and teachers who develop and teach these ideas. That would mean support for the public schools and that would mean support for the public school unions. All of that reduces profits. It’s a Matryoshka doll of nested craziness.