Fresno State professor cancels first public appearance following Twitter bash of Bush family

FRESNO, Calif. -- You could hear the condemnation from the Fresno State parking lot and see it plastered on social media. People are not happy with Professor Randa Jarrar's Twitter bash of the Barbara Bush, written hours after the former first lady passed away.

"It wasn't just a free speech issue, this is an issue of common decency and respect and I was horrified by what I saw," said Fresno State University President Joseph Castro.

Jarrar has since retreated from the public eye. She wasn't at her home. Her Twitter account is now set on private. The only news from her Wednesday came in the form of an announcement saying that she backed out of speaking at a literary festival to be held at Fresno City College this weekend. It is unclear if death threats played a role in her decision.

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"We should be able to say what we think in this country," said Tarah Wittman, a student on campus. "I mean she should have been able to come here and still speak. But on the other hand, I wouldn't want her representing Fresno City, so I'm kind of glad she wasn't one of my professors."

In a press release, Fresno City wrote that they supported her decision to withdraw. "While we respect the right to free speech, even objectionable speech, Jarrar's statements are her own and do not reflect the values of LitHop of Fresno City College. We acknowledge the severity of her statements and take very seriously the concerns expressed throughout the community,"

Jarrar's tweets calling Barbara Bush "an amazing racist", a "witch", and wishing her family to "fall to their demise" have prompted some to call for her termination. Neighbors find it hard to fathom those words came from her. They see her in a much kinder light.

"She's a great person, kind of a beautiful soul. My dogs have gotten out a few times, she's always the first one to grab them, take care of them," said Michelle Guevara who lives next door.

Jarrar has tenure, but President Castro says all options regarding potential disciplinary actions are on the table. She is currently on a personal leave of absence for the spring semester.
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