Fresno State professor Randa Jarrar has offered up a glimpse of the hate mail she’s received from around the country since her controversial comments about former first lady Barbara Bush.
Jarrar in April took to Twitter and attacked Bush, calling her an “amazing racist” who raised a “war criminal.” The fallout became a national story and touched off an internal debate at Fresno State with calls for the university to fire the English professor.
Tuesday night, Jarrar forwarded 54 email messages to The Bee.
The feedback, which originally was sent to Jarrar’s university email account, can get downright nasty — sometimes threatening. Many referenced her background; she is of Palestinian and Egyptian descent.
“You belong in a cage as a sex-slave for ISIS & other Sunni jihadis,” says one email. “And if you ever want to return to your native slum, setup a ‘go fund me’ account for a 1-way ticket to Cairo & i’ll give you $200.”
In another email, someone wrote: “Barbara Bush was a woman of Grace and compassion you on the other hand are fat Arab Pig you may not think you’re going to get fired but I wouldn’t bet that you won’t wind up Underground you’re a disgrace and should be punished appropriately.”
The Bee was not able to confirm the original senders of the forwarded emails.
But it’s possible that the 54 forwarded emails were a mere sampling of the vitriolic feedback Jarrar has received, considering the string of comments posted on social media following her tweet about Bush.
The tenor of the comments on social media, as well as those expressed at a local public forum, certainly was reflected in the forwarded hate mail.
A handful of the forwarded emails agreed with Jarrar’s opinion.
“I support your honest statements on Bush,” one stated. “Both her husband and son are war criminals. If I can be of help please let me know. It makes me sick that she is being hailed as some kind of kind funny hero.”
Mostly, though, the hate mail seemed even more aggressive than what was written on social media, perhaps a result of media outlets filtering comments on their social media pages.
Jarrar did not elaborate on the hate mail and declined an interview request.
But in a reply to The Bee’s interview request, Jarrar stated she forwarded the emails to show the “violent and inhumane” feedback.
“I want you to see how your paper’s unethical and biased reporting feeds into inhumane and cruel treatment towards the people you write about,” Jarrar wrote. “It is violent and inhumane.”
The controversy surrounding the professor seemed to simmer down over the course of three months, even after the initial outcry following Fresno State president Joseph Castro’s announcement that Jarrar would not be fired.
Then last week, Jarrar made a different comment on social media that created a new firestorm.
And once again, Fresno State was caught up in the intensified hatred toward the professor.
In a rant reportedly about the magazine The Nation, Jarrar demanded on Twitter that white editors resign.
Jarrar’s Twitter account has been on a private setting since April following her barrage of Tweets about Bush.
But Campusreform.org says it got a screen shot of her white editor post.
“At some point, all of us in the literary community must DEMAND that white editors resign,” wrote Jarrar, according to Campus Reform. “It’s time to STEP DOWN and hand over the positions of power.”
Among the emails that Jarrar forwarded is a message sent to her shortly after her “white editors” comment.
“The flaws in your fat, over eating, miss piggy looking, hateful personality are painfully obvious to everyone if not to you.” someone wrote. “You have to be one of the dumbest cu*** on the planet. ...
“You’re an embarrassment to the university and contribute nothing at all to creating a better peaceful world. Here’s hoping nothing but the worst for you fatty.”
Jarrar is set to teach at Fresno State for the upcoming fall semester.