Update: 12-24-05 – The student who reported this story has admitted it was a hoax. I am relieved that our federal agents are not wasting their time on such. Thanks to “anonymous” for alerting me to the hoax.
Book checked out of the library results in a visit from federal agents. What’s next, book burnings?
Feds Question Student, Frighten UM-Darmouth Faculty
“Why are You Reading that Little Red Book?”
By GARY LEUPP
Just when you think it can’t get crazier, it gets crazier. Aaron Nicodemus, a journalist with the southern Massachusetts newspaper The Standard-Times, reports that in October of this year a senior at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth was visited by federal agents and questioned about a book he had ordered through inter-library loan. Apparently U Mass librarians are cooperating with the USA-Patriot Act. You know, the one that’s all about Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. The book was for a research paper he was doing for a course on fascism and totalitarianism taught by Professor Robert Pontbriand, a specialist in European intellectual and cultural history. The agents visited the student after he ordered a book that is, they informed him, on a “watch list.”
The book being watched? No, not some Islamist tome, al-Qaeda training manual or technical work on explosives, but a well-known book the whole text of which you can find online or order from amazon.com. It’s Quotations from Chairman Mao Tsetung, also known as the “Little Red Book,” a book once rivaling the Bible in circulation. To really monitor its readership would involve watching all internet access to the text, purchases of the book, and library loans of it. A formidable task and insane waste of FBI time, surely. But these are mad times.