Martial Arts as War (MAW) and Martial Arts as Sport (MAS)—these are the two paradigms that, by and large, define the contemporary universe of the martial arts. Or so I have argued in previous essays. Now, it’s true, of course, that—as my own Master-Instructor observed to me in one of our countless conversations over this […]
Randa Jarrar, a professor of English at Fresno State, will not be fired for the harsh remarks that she tweeted following the passing of former First Lady, Barbara Bush.
And it’s a good thing too.
“Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal.” She added: “F— outta here with your nice words.”
She added: “PSA: either you are against these pieces of s**t 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.”
Jarrar taunted the thousands of twitter users who angrily responded to her by noting that, as a tenured professor raking in over $100,000 annually, she could say anything that she wanted to say with impunity.
She proved correct on this score.
This episode, specifically the reaction of the neoconservative media, or Big Conservative (Big Con) personalities, to Jarrar’s admittedly crass tweets, provides much food for thought.
First, though Jarrar, given her readiness to hurl the “R”-word at her opponents, is clearly a woman of the hard left, and though it stretches credibility to the snapping point to think that she would defend a right-winger in circumstances comparable to those in which she has landed herself, the truth of the matter is that more so than anyone else, it is those Big Conservative media figures who are tirelessly lobbying the left to respect their “freedom of speech” who should be in Jarrar’s corner.
Whatever else can be said about Professor Jarrar—and, undoubtedly, there is much that can be said about her—no one who is so much as remotely partial to free speech can conclude that Jarrar did anything that warrants disciplinary action, much less termination: She tweeted on her own time, in her own account, and in reply to the death of one of the most famous human beings on the planet.
Sorry, but this is fair game.
This being said, no one with even a superficial acquaintance with the contemporary academic scene can believe that Jarrar’s employers, the administrators at Fresno State, have refused to take action against her because of their respect for “the principle” of free speech. Academia is a bastion of militant leftism, a most unsafe space for those students, faculty, and guest speakers who the self-appointed guardians of the prevailing orthodoxy deem insufficiently “progressive.”
Still, Jarrar doesn’t deserve any repercussions, much less termination.
There is, though, another, arguably more important, point.
While Jarrar may have been unfair in labeling Barbara Bush a “racist,” can anyone seriously doubt the truth of her assessment of George W. Bush? After all, Bush 43 invaded Iraq under false pretenses. Though he, his administration, and his supporters in Big Conservative media, hot on the heels of 9/11, sold the war primarily in terms of Saddam Hussein’s intentions to deploy “Weapons of Mass Destruction” against Americans, their objective, as everyone now knows, was to initiate a Democratic Revolution throughout the Middle East.
The pursuit of this neoconservative utopian plan, like the pursuit of any other leftist utopia, came at the cost of incalculable human suffering and death.
Whether 1.5 million Iraqis have died as a consequence of Bush’s invasion of Iraq can’t be definitively established. Some estimates do indeed place the fatalities at this high of a figure. Others estimate that 500,000 Iraqis (not to mention thousands of Americans) have been killed. However, in order to grasp a full picture of the destructiveness wrought by this war—again, a war that was launched on the basis of a fiction and for the sake of realizing a grandiose vision—one needs to consider some other facts.
Courtesy of the invasion of Iraq, ancient Christian communities in the country have been decimated, and so too have the Yazidi minority been subjected to brutal persecution.
Approximately 800,000 to one million Iraqi children have been orphaned.
Hundreds of thousands of people who have survived the war have been maimed and traumatized by what they’ve been made to endure.
The dismantling of the Hussein regime let loose ISIS, a situation that has only recently been brought under control thanks to the labors of the Trump administration.
Though neoconservatives weren’t the only proponents of this epic human calamity, they were its architects, and they remain—incredibly, to this day—its most stalwart defenders. That neoconservatives should express outrage over a tweet by a heretofore unheard of Arab-American professor regarding one of the world’s most famous political dynasties, while continuing to champion the bloody war launched by a member of this dynasty, is telling.
Not only does the neoconservative reaction in the Big Con reveal a gross distortion of moral priorities. It exposes as well an ideological fanaticism:
The neoconservative is a zealot, an extremist committed to a neo-Imperial Creed that he is willing to advance by whichever means necessary.
For the longest time, neoconservatives have insisted upon the need for “conservatives” (meaning those like themselves) to repudiate “extremists” on the “far right.” This, though, is classic projection.
It is those of us who wish to live sensibly, who sympathize with an older right, a classical conservative or libertarian tradition, who must spare no occasion to distance ourselves from the Big Con.
The reason is simple:
The planet cannot afford any more neoconservative extremism.