Editorial: Critics of the late Barbara Bush ask: How far is too far?

The Editorial Board

Former First Lady, Barbara Bush, died on Tuesday after years of battling with various illnesses. She spent most of her life in the political spotlight as she was the wife of one president and the mother of another. While she was both loved and hated for her candor and her fierce loyalty, few people have actively spoken out against her after her death. However, one woman decided to share her comments in a tweet that went viral.

Randa Jarrar, a professor of creative writing at California State University at Fresco tweeted: “Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal.”

Before she made her Twitter private, Jarrar was hailed with a storm of replies and messages from people who were appalled by her harsh words. However, she was not deterred from the message she was trying to send and even went as far as to link the president of her college’s Twitter so that people could “tell on” her. She laughed at the individuals saying that she was going to get fired because she claimed to be untouchable via her tenure at her position.

When the higher-ups of her institution got word of the situation, they formally distanced themselves from her, saying that they did not agree with her strong statements. They also stated that they were not moving to revoke her tenure or her position in anyway although they did not support her Twitter beliefs.

Jarrar stood by her beliefs evermore, claiming that the backlash were great examples of “what it’s like to be an Arab American Muslim American woman with some clout online expressing an opinion.”

Since the initial outrage has blown over, people have been left with their original differing opinions on the life and decisions of Barbara Bush. And what’s more, there is a large community of people arguing over whether or not it is appropriately feminist to critique the former First Lady.

The recent years especially has been all about women lifting each other up. Women from all backgrounds and beliefs are coming together and understanding their power as a united front. Even Barbara Bush herself knew the power of united women as she was outspoken about her distaste for Trump when he was running for office. Of course, her opinions might have been compounded by the fact that her son, Jeb Bush, was also running, but perhaps that fact does not make them any less true.

Jarrar’s comments have rattled some women’s understanding of what it means to stand by and with other women. A powerful, outspoken woman in any position is grounds for celebration to some, but others see past the initial triumph to know that she must use her power for the good of others, especially women. While Bush was certainly a powerful woman, she did support her husband and son’s harmful policies.

Perhaps speaking poorly of the dead is a sin, as many have claimed after Jarrar’s comments, but maybe it can also be a warning for other women in power. More women in power is an exciting advancement in the world, but these women need to be held accountable for their actions as much as men.

Barbara Bush will be missed by many, her life and and decisions will hopefully inform the decisions of women to come, whether they are following in her footsteps are trying to avoid them.

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