Randa Jarrar, a tenured English professor at Fresno State University, made the news this week for her tasteless tweet about the death of Barbara Bush. This is what Jarrar said:
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.
PSA: either you are against these pieces of shit 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. byyyeeeeeeee.
All the hate I'm getting ALMOST made me forget how happy I am that George W Bush is probably really sad right now.
Jarrar has been roundly excoriated by conservative pundits for her crude remarks about a great American, but she is unrepentant. Here is Jarrar's response to her critics:
sweetie i work as a tenured professor. I make 100K a year doing that. i will never be fired. i will always have people wanting to hear what i have to say. even you are one of them!
Perhaps enough has been said about Jarrar's boorish behavior, but as a tenured professor myself, I would like to add a few reflections.
First, Randa Jarrar exemplifies all that is wrong with higher education today. A tenured professor--an English professor, for God's sake--apparently saw the death of Barbara Bush as an opportunity to spew sneering profanity into the twittersphere. There was a time when university professors were expected to be models of civility and decency. The very idea that an English professor at a public university would cruelly mock a recently deceased First Lady even before Mrs. Bush was buried should shock us all.
Secondly, Jarrar's taunting retort to her critics presents a strong argument against tenure. Tenure's defenders say it is necessary to preserve academic freedom, but Jarrar seems to think that tenure is nothing more than a license to behave boorishly. "[I] will never be fired," she boasted; and people will always want "want to hear what [I] have to say." Really?
Isn't it outrageous that Randa Jarrar has a tenured position at a California university, which comes with excellent health insurance and a good pension? Meanwhile millions of Americans have student loans up to their eyeballs--loans taken out to take classes from buffoons like Professor Jarrar.
But this is the saddest thing of all about the Jarrar affair: Professor Jarrar is probably right. She will never be fired.