Saturday, December 17, 2005


This is the scariest thing I've read in awhile:
"A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called 'The Little Red Book.'

"Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program.

"The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said.

"The professors said the student was told by the agents that the book is on a 'watch list,' and that his background, which included significant time abroad, triggered them to investigate the student further.

"'I tell my students to go to the direct source, and so he asked for the official Peking version of the book,' Professor Pontbriand said. 'Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring inter-library loans, because that's what triggered the visit, as I understand it.'"

It's really enough to make me wonder if this was a joke newspaper. Sadly, it doesn't appear to be. Is this as it seems? And if so, is this the scariest news of the month?

UPDATE: Here's one question I have. Does anyone know anything about the paper this is from? It's a local thing, and I have no idea what its quality is.

UPDATE: Instapundit suggests an analogy between this and a case involving one Nancy Oden. I don't think that's a good idea. Oden really was refused passage, even if her political persecution complex at being asked to undergo extra screening was the direct cause. Here, either the source is lying and the newspaper didn't pick up on that, or the core of this story is true. The missing piece is perhaps other things this student has been involved in that would make him stand out from all the other students who read Mao Zedong at some point.

UPDATE: One last comment: My hunch here is that the core of this story is true, and that the student's travel resume stands out and he's been involved in some of the left-wing activity we know has been monitored in this country. But that's just my hunch.

UPDATE: This is a problem. The Massachusetts - Dartmouth ILL form does not have a blank for social security numbers. I don't think that's the sort of error that does things in entirely, but that does suggest the news account is imperfect.

(Crossposted to American Footprints.)


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