The Custom of the Country

I always had rather a soft spot in me for Barbara Bush; the exemplary old-school upper-middle-class good wife, with her triple strand of pearls, and the way that she didn’t give a damn about going prematurely white. That was the way she was, and she didn’t give two pins. Class – that’s what she had, the class of a previous generation; a class now belatedly appreciated and mourned, now that the upholders and exemplars of it are almost now gone from between us. Among my transitory friends in Korea was a security policeman who had come off the White House protection squad at the end of the senior Bush administration: he adored Barbara, who called him Timmy – possibly the only person on earth besides his mother who did so, as he was one of these six-and-a-half foot tall human hazards in traffic, who looked rather like an Irish-Anglo version of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
So – I took brief note of her passing; yes, good to die at home, refusing anything but palliative care, among family, and those whom hold you in affection. I am certain that Timmy – wherever he is now – is riffling through his fond memories of his particular First Lady and drinking a toast to her. A good long life, well lived, a loving marriage, well-adjusted and successful children, and grandchildren; what more could a brief life on this earth offer? I also drink a toast to Barbara Bush, and convey my sincerest condolences to those who loved her, a circle which extends far beyond those of her blood family. (I wish, though, that she had not been so catty about Sarah Palin, but I guess she was just going along with the old-line Establishment GOP crowd.)

This appears to be a simple social courtesy too much for a certain professor of … something or other at a California State University. Oh – it’s the one in Fresno. Fresno – like Bakersfield, it’s own punishment. (Yes, I am letting my latent California snobbishness show. Yes, there are places in California too infra dig for words. Fresno is one of them, although it did feature in a hilarious and all-star parody of 1980s dramas like Dynasty and Dallas. I continue.) The tweets posted by this so-called professor (of what, pray tell? Oh, dear – of English.) Couldn’t prove it through the content of her tweets, which largely appear barely literate speak for themselves – mostly a narrative of vicious ignorance and malice.

Her name is Randa Jarrar, which must be 21st century speak for Two Ton Tessie, the epitome of a certain kind of female academic social justice warrior, like Trigglypuff. If her now-notorious tweets are what she puts on her social media feed, god only knows what she says to her students in the classroom – at a public and state-funded university, I might add. MS Jarrar is apparently a promising author of the kind of socially-aware preciosity that most of us wouldn’t read on a bet, unless it was to make riotous fun of. She appears to be a lukewarm American Muslim of part-Palestinian extraction, raised in Kuwait and Egypt, returning to the United States for good and all after the First Gulf War in 1991; her previous claim to fame was to have authored a widely-circulated essay on Salon about how she couldn’t stand white belly-dancers. On the grounds of cultural appropriation, apparently.

Among the items of cultural appropriation that MS Jarrar seems to have refused to partake of is the classically Latin truism about ‘speaking no ill of the dead’ – and the other, more American bog-standard, about ‘if you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all.’ Tragic, since she seemed to have graced UT-Austin with her presence, for a degree in Middle Eastern studies. Oh, well – Austin, what can I say? I would venture a supposition that her very personal animus towards the Bush family has roots in the Gulf War and Saddam Hussein’s brief occupation of Kuwait. If I recall (and I do, for I followed events, being on active duty at the time), elements of the Palestinians in Kuwait and in the Middle East generally were enthusiastically backers of Saddam Hussein. When Saddam Hussein was chased out of Kuwait – well, those Poor, Poor, Pitiful Palestinians were considered as collaborators, and treated in Kuwait rather as French Nazi collaborators were treated after Liberation. While not quite having their heads shaved and marched naked through the streets, they were definitely made unwelcome by the Kuwaitis. I recall that many self-identifying Palestinians did leave Kuwait in a hurry. Being a logical person, I suspect that MS. Jarrar’s family were among them.

And so MS Jarrar found herself, after many academic adventures, comfortably in a well-paid sinecure at a small-town public university in California. Tenure, baby – it’s where you can find it. Alas, she seems to be addicted to the drug of “Calling Attention to Yourself”, and in this case, not thoughtful of how she went about getting that required fix or considering the wisdom of what she would say to get it. Now she has that attention – and having done so on her personal Twitter account (I swear, Twitter exists for the sole purpose of revealing morons in 140 characters or less) she has reflected nothing good on her employer, and from reports of her other social media appearances, she has nothing good to say about the local Fresno community, either. She may very well prove toxic to the university itself, tenure or no – having also demonstrated that she has no firm hold on the axiom regarding not bringing discredit or public opprobrium on one’s employer. Discuss this latest social media/academic dumpster fire; will she be sacked, or retained? Place your bets, gentlemen, place your bets.

13 thoughts on “The Custom of the Country”

  1. Everything about the American university system is completely broken, mostly through a combination of an overt leftist plan to take them over, assisted by the Vietnam War deferment system, and clever moves by cultural mandarins to exploit the flood of government money that started with the GI Bill in order to harden the existence of the credentialocracy that they supervise.
    I see a multi-pronged attack as being needed at this point:
    1. Eliminate all government-funded tuition payment programs. This is not realistically going to happen. So what needs to happen is to have universities forced to be designated as co-signers on all government payments. Do that and you’ll see $60K+ tuitions for garbage degrees end tomorrow.
    2. Attack the “you must go to college to be able to succeed, and the more expensive the college, the more likely you will be to succeed” lunatic mindset. Here’s what some good libertarian/conservative groups need to do–set up a program where if you have an acceptance letter to a selective university, you can get hired for an entry level job. The Thiel Fellowships are a publicity stunt, imagine if Thiel or the Koch brothers did something like this on a large scale with any of their companies.

  2. Honestly, I’m given to agree; there are people I knew in high school who would have gotten NOTHING from a college track, and were better off going to a vocational/tech/apprentice track.
    And that local, small-city colleges take on SJW-sponges like this particular piece of work … to teach English to kids? The Cal State Unis are SUPPOSED to cater to … you know, LOCAL students interested in higher education. God knows what this intellectual dirtbag was telling her students on classroom time.
    And for the record, I went to a Cal State university for upper division. I could not have told you anything about the political sympathies of any of the professors who taught the classes that I was in. They were disinterested professionals, as far as I could see. OK, so the Medieval History prof was the single most boring and pointless lecturer that I ever had to sit in a room with for five hours a week. But he did assign good books, and I was writing a thriller novel during his lectures anyway.

  3. from reports of her other social media appearances, she has nothing good to say about the local Fresno community, either
    I wonder if some of that is a reflection of her carrying old country conflicts to the United States, as Fresno has a lot of people of Armenian descent. The writer William Saroyan, for example. But a typical academic- or typical Angeleno or Bay Area person- will scorn Fresno, Armenians or no Armenians.

    My only experience with Fresno was, on the return from a hike in the Sierras, throwing around a football with my LA cousin at 115 degrees. I now find it hard to believe it was actually that hot, but that is what I remember. I recall it wasn’t that uncomfortable- much drier than TX heat.

    I recall that many self-identifying Palestinians did leave Kuwait in a hurry. Being a logical person, I suspect that MS. Jarrar’s family were among them.
    That is also my conclusion. I knew a family of Palestinian Christians, whom I first met when I was in high school. Bright, hard-working, with a lot of graduate STEM degrees. Before they died in the 1980s, my parents got Christmas cards from several family members, including the West Bank patriarch. In the last Christmas card my mother got before she died, the patriarch told her he and his wife were living with a son who was working in Kuwait. We know how that ended.

    A grandson of the West Bank patriarch came to the US for grad school. He completed his STEM doctorate. He got a tenure track position, which is not easy to obtain these days. He didn’t get tenure because he spent too much time in political activism instead of in research. He eventually went back to the West Bank.

    [There was some irony about the target of the grandson’s activism. Before the Six Day War, the patriarch told his children to get out of the West Bank. Muslims, he told his children, will never promote you. As an employee of the Jordanian civil service, he knew what he was talking about. The irony is that the grandson has a cousin on the other side of the family who has made rather vociferous complaints about Muslim mistreatment of Christians in the West Bank. But the patriarch’s grandson never said a word about THAT. It was all about the JOOS.]

    Perhaps the patriarch’s grandson and Randa Jarrar had felt guilty for their good fortune of having a faculty position at an American university, and turned to activism, in the case of the grandson, or to snark, in the case of Randa Jarrar, to alleviate their feelings of guilt.

  4. Everything about the American university system is completely broken, mostly through a combination of an overt leftist plan to take them over, assisted by the Vietnam War deferment system, and clever moves by cultural mandarins to exploit the flood of government money that started with the GI Bill in order to harden the existence of the credentialocracy that they supervise.

    I agree and would recommend for my grandson, unless he gets a full scholarship, he should do a Marine enlistment. Then think about college.

    I interviewed a young man two or three weeks ago who did an Air Force enlistment, working as an avionics tech, got out and went to U of Alaska, Fairbanks for a BS in EE.

    Now he was going back into the AF with a commission.

    My wife’s oldest son, in Oregon, builds custom houses in the wine country. His two sones work for him and all do very well.

    His third son works for his uncle rebuilding older Porsches. I;ve posted a link to their business.

    None of them have college degrees.

    A brother-in-law builds winery equipment and does very well. He rebuilds 1933 Ford Roadsters as a hobby. He had six when we were up there last summer. Three were fully restored. Do you know what 1933 Ford Roadsters are worth restored ?

    Take a look.

    None have college degrees.

  5. Peggy Noonan had a wonderful piece on Barbara:

    This is what I thought when I first met her: “She is a strong woman, not ego-driven but protective of kith and kin. Those merry eyes, the warmth, the ability to get the help cracking in a jolly way and then not so jolly. A lack of pretension, a breeziness, but underneath she is Greenwich granite, one of the women who settled the hard gray shores of the East and summoned roses from the rocks.”

    That’s how I saw Barbara Bush 30 years ago and wrote in a book, and though I wouldn’t put it in quite those words today—Greenwich, Conn. has granite mostly in its supply outlets, and she grew up a few miles away, in Rye, N.Y.—it’s still how I see her.

    So many words have been said of her this week, all of them true—tough, funny, hardy, sensitive to those in trouble. I’d add:

    She is being celebrated so warmly in part because she reminds us of how normal American political figures used to act before this garish age. We have a newfound appreciation.

    She was beautiful. She had no physical vanity and in fact mocked her looks: The strings of pearls were to hide her neck wrinkles, when her hair turned white it turned white. But the bones of her face were strong and delicate, and her eyes sparkled…

    As to that “Professor” – get rid of the tenure system.

  6. Thanks for your post. Her niceness was so deeply felt – it seems to have touched people everywhere. My dental tech has a picture of her daughter and the Bushes, signed by the Bushes – the lovely winding hills of the Bush school is a favorite for wedding photos and they happened by and graciously posed with the bride. It would seem good luck to connect them with wedding photos.
    The Library leaves a visitor feeling the powerful decency of the family, the dedication to real service. And it certainly takes us back to an era when a man could look across the dance floor at 19 and know that woman (who also apparently knew it immediately) would be the love of his life – and she was, as they went to the dusty oil fields and to China, a life of adventure.
    I just wish they hadn’t gotten entangled with the Clintons in Haiti – it is hard to believe that anyone in this family is naive but it is even harder, perhaps, to imagine that others view their responsibilities so differently than they.

  7. “I just wish they hadn’t gotten entangled with the Clintons in Haiti”

    Yes but I am not that much a fan of the Bushes. I wish Reagan had chosen Jack Kemp as VP and I supported McCain in 2000, although not in 2008.

    To me, George HW Bush’s high point was as a pilot in WWII.

    I always thought that Ann Richards had a point when she said George W was “born on third base and thought he had hit a triple.”

  8. Speaking of universities and liberal idiots teaching there, (That WAS the actilual subject, right) I recall a friend of mine talking about a survey course she was taking 15+ years ago (when she was taking it), in which a professor, talking about the roles played by Morgan Freeman were supposedly all “menial” roles, servant types, etc., since he was a black man.

    My friend had to grit her teeth to not flunk the class by ripping him a new one as she pointed out how, AT THAT POINT IN TIME, his roles had included not just the Secretary of Defense AND the PotUS, but that he was, in fact, one of very very few people who had played GOD onscreen… :-/

  9. I remember Fresno. Very funny. Gregory Harrison playing the Faulkner-esque/Tennessee Williams-esque mysterious drifter with his shirt off and slung over his shoulder the entire time was good gag. The one sight gag that comes to mind was Teri Garr, also shirtless, trying to seduce him. He rebuffs her advances, albeit in a dignified manner, because he’s in love with some other character or something. Teri then slinks out with her shirt also slung over her shoulder, her pride intact, if not her clothes.

    Well, at least I thought it was memorable for some reason.

    Anyway, this Jarrar idiot seems to be another one of these people under the mistaken impression that Arab is a race, and that everyone to the south and east of some point on the map is a member of it. She couldn’t be more mistaken. It’s too bad her mother didn’t teach her some family history along with some manners. It was the tragedy of fraudulent 20th century Arab nationalism that caused stateless groups like Fellahin and Egyptiotes to be set adrift. She should just shut her big mouth, chill out, and listen to the coolest Greek-Egyptian-Jewish-Salentino, Georges Moustaki sing about it.

  10. A link to a translation for the Georges Moustaki song.
    Yes, Jarrar is an idiot and one of the most flamingly-abusive of the English language which I have run across in a long time. Yes, THIS is a tenured professor, teaching English at a state uni? Never mind about abusing Barbara Bush, post-mortum – what about MS Jarrar’s flagrant abuse of the English language?

  11. Jarrar looks to be a typical Fresno State professor – stupid, clueless, and unqualified. I saw this morning this video of another one of their proud faculty declaring that “college campuses are not free speech areas.”

    She most certainly obtained her position because of her minority victimhood status. She was also involved in some controversy with the Middle East studies program at the school, which is named for Edward Said. Another part Palestinian/part Greek, he originated the reverse racist academic fraud that Western civilization’s Orientalism is the cause of the wretched condition of Arabs.

    For anybody who’s interested this was a great documentary about the recent history of Greeks in Egypt. It all came apart after World War II, but especially with the fanatical Arabization campaigns under Nassar in the 50s. Greeks had thrived in Alexandria for thousands of years. They were forced to flee, along with other minorities such as Jews and Armenians, when their homes and businesses were seized.

  12. “Greeks had thrived in Alexandria for thousands of years. ”

    Greeks ran the Ottoman Empire for thousands of years.

    They were called “Levantines” by westerners as a derogatory term since they lived and worked in the Muslim world.

    When the Greeks were driven out, as at Smyrna in 1920, the Muslims subsided into poverty and ignorance.

  13. Mike, and to make things even more confusing, the Ottomans called the Greeks Romans. They probably thought of themselves as Romans too, since the Greek identity as we think of it is actually another somewhat modern development.

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