An English professor at Fresno State University, on leave during the spring semester, has set off a firestorm by gloating over the death of former first lady Barbara Bush.
“I’m happy the witch is dead,” Randa Jarrar said in a Twitter message. “Can’t wait for the rest of the her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million Iraqis have.”
Her rant, which she made “private” shortly after it was dispatched, said Bush, who died Tuesday night at the age of 92, raised a “war criminal.”
“Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who along with her husband, raised a war criminal,” Jarrar wrote. “[Expletive] outta here with your nice words.
“PSA: either you are against these pieces of sh-t and their genocidal ways or you’re part of the problem. That’s actually how simple this is.”
The venom drew a disclaimer of her thoughts by her university, as as well as the attention of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh.
He said people of this kind are “demented, they’re deranged, and they’re getting worse.”
“Twenty-five years ago, people could be fired for this,” he continued. “Today, people on the left are applauded, they are supported and they are effectively given medals for this stuff.”
He described her as “enraged … poisoned by hatred.”
Her Fresno State faculty page says she grew up in Kuwait and Egypt and has been given a number of writing awards, including an Arab-American Book Award.
She’s also the director of the Radius of Arab American Writers.
On her own Web page, she presents headlines of her work including “Finding the Divine in BSDM” and “Him Me Muhammad Ali.”
She boasts of “a collection of stories set in Texas, Egypt, Palestine, Michigan, and other spots, and featuring journalists and kids and queers and pregnant girls and birds who are arrested for spying.”
No details were provided about the birds who are arrested for spying.
Not surprisingly, her university disavowed her sentiments.
University President Joseph Castro issued a statement extending “deepest condolences to the Bush family.”
“We share the deep concerns expressed by others over the personal comments made today by professor Randa Jarrar, a professor in the English department at Fresno state,” he wrote. “Her statements were made as a private citizen, not as a representative of Fresno State. Professor Jarrar’s expressed personal views and commentary are obviously contrary to the core values of our university, which include respect and empathy for individuals with divergent points of view, and a sincere commitment to mutual understanding and progress.”
Castro had been included in many responses to Jarrar’s statements. Some messages went directly to him, including: “Many of us had no idea who @randajarrar was at first & assumed she was just another rather nasty person on Twitter. Imagine our surprise when we found out she represents your institution. You may want to get ahead of this.”
In her social media diatribe, Jarrar boasted of making $100,000 a year and claimed that, as a tenured professor, she could not be fired.
Her initial rant generated more than 2,000 replies.
She describes herself as an “Arab-American” and “Muslim-American.”
She even boasted of the outrage she was causing: “If you’d like to know what it’s like to be an Arab American Muslim American woman with some clout online expressing an opinion, look at the racists going crazy in my mentions right now.”
Also, negative reviews of her books began appearing on Amazon shortly after she made her statements.
“Terrible book,” said one. “Horrible writing. Don’t waste your time,” said a second. And a third said, “Will make for expensive toilet paper.”
A Los Angeles Times review of her work notes: “Jarrar is hardly the romantic. Love between couples here is often no more than sex.”
It continued: “Half of these short stories don’t feel fully explored or finished. They are unique and original but sometimes lack a satisfying conclusion or realization.”
The Visalia Times suggested Jarrar’s comments may land her in hot water.
Fresno State spokeswoman Patti Waid said the university continues to look into the matter.