The Fresno State professor who cheered the death of Barbara Bush was in turn cheered by a local literary group at an arts festival.
Randa Jarrar ignited scathing backlash when she tweeted offensive comments just hours after the death of the 92-year-old former first lady whom Jarrar called a “racist,” adding she was glad “the witch is dead.” The professor also boasted that she could not be fired from her position which the university’s president later declared was a false statement.
While the tenured English professor has reportedly left the country and is on leave for the current semester, her name was greeted with applause each time it was mentioned at a local Fresno literary festival, according to Fox News.
The controversy wrought by her incendiary comments caused Jarrar to withdraw from LitHop, a day-long festival for the art community which she was supposed to headline.
Statement from @fresnocity regarding Randa Jarrar’s appearance at LitHop. pic.twitter.com/LBXjbA7DxP
— Fresno City College (@fresnocity) April 18, 2018
Fresno City College announced in a statement that the campus and LitHop 2018 organizers supported Jarrar’s decision to withdraw, but added that the professor’s words did not reflect the views of the event or Fresno City College, according to The Fresno Bee.
“I support Randa Jarrar’s free speech and I also denounce any violence against her or threats of violence against anyone else,” Lee Herrick, founder of LitHop, told the audience which applauded.
“Randa is in our thoughts,” he said. “She’s a very important part of this literary community and she is on everyone’s minds for her safety and some of the important issues that are being raised about the importance of free speech.”
Keynote reader Giménez Smith read a poem dedicated to Jarrar, telling the audience of about 100 people that the professor is a “writer who tests limits and pursues liberty through her literature,” according to the Fresno Bee. Again, the crowd applauded the name of the controversial professor who was seen in video that emerged last week of a vulgar f-bomb rant in which she called farmers “f-ing stupid Trump-supporters” and praised terrorists.
Fresno State President Joseph Castro condemned Jarrar’s comments last week as “unacceptable” and said the university “just cannot tolerate it.”
Controversial Fresno State professor Lars Maischak believes the university president is siding with Jarrar’s critics instead of standing up to the “fascist threat to academic freedom.” Maischak, who was demoted after tweeting in 2017 that President Trump “must hang” so as to “save American democracy,” wrote an article denouncing the university president, titled: “Fresno State’s Castro didn’t defend my free speech. A year later, he’s learned nothing.”
While Jarrar was widely condemned for her offensive comments about the former first lady’s death, many civil right and advocacy groups came out to support her, Fox News reported.
“Jarrar’s tweets are unquestionably protected speech under the First Amendment and Fresno State has no power to censor, punish, or terminate Jarrar for them,” Adam Steinbaugh, senior program officer for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), said in a statement to Fox News.
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