Randa Jarrar, the leftist Fresno State professor who mocked former First Lady Barbara Bush’s death on Twitter, has broken her silence about the controversial remarks that divided the country in their opinions on the line between free speech and really distasteful speech.
In an April interview with New York Magazine’s The Cut, Jarrar explained that she stands by her comments and is proud that she spoke her mind in order to educate those who might not have been in the know about the Bush family’s alleged doings.
She also said that as a “person of color,” she feels that the blowback to her remarks was even greater than it would have been if a white person said them.
According to The Cut, Jarrar is of Egyptian, Palestinian, and Greek heritage.
What’s the history?
In April, Jarrar celebrated Bush’s death in a slew of offensive tweets.
In one tweet, the Jarrar wrote, “Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal. F*** outta here with your nice words.”
She added, “PSA: either you are against these pieces of s**t and their genocidal ways or you’re part of the problem. That’s actually how simple this is. I’m happy the witch is dead. Can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million Iraqis have.”
Despite receiving heavy criticism on social media, Jarrar bragged that she couldn’t be fired, because she was a tenured professor.
After much back and forth and outcry, Jarrar turned out to be right: Fresno State President Joseph Castro, though condemning her remarks (made as a “private citizen”), announced that she would be able to retain her position at the college because of her constitutional right to free speech.
What’s she saying now?
According to The Cut, Jarrar said, “I felt compelled to speak up because I want people to remember history.”
“I want people to know that our country’s actions don’t just disappear; they have real, negative consequences,” she told the outlet via email. “If we want a better future, we have to confront our past.”
Jarrar then took her initial criticism of the Bush family and doubled down on it.
“The Bush family — including Barbara Bush — supported policies that harmed and destroyed the lives of millions,” she stated.
When the outlet asked Jarrar if she believes that she was targeted with harsh criticism because of her “ethnic background,” Jarrar said she does.
“I am not the only person who has stated the belief that Barbara Bush was a racist,” she told The Cut. “But women of color routinely have their tone policed, their justified anger painted as hatred, and their criticism of injustice framed as racism toward white people.”
She concluded by attempting to turn her negative remarks about a former first lady — who was also a wife and mother — into something positive.
“Again, because I can be at times overly optimistic or perhaps idealistic, I wish the conversation we were having as a nation today was about how we mourn problematic figures,” Jarrar explained. “Instead, it has become a kind of mourning of our rights to free expression.”