Homeland Security agents investigate student who borrowed copy of Mao's Little Red Book

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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."

Dr. Williams said he had been planning to offer a course on terrorism next semester, but is reconsidering, because it might put his students at risk."I shudder to think of all the students I've had monitoring al-Qaeda Web sites, what the government must think of that," he said."Mao Tse-Tung is completely harmless."

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Michael Holm - 12/25/2005

That may be correct, perhaps he had visited foreign countries such as which? Vietnam (lots of Americans go there) or is it the Middle East you are wondering about? That certainly has no connection to Mao. Either way, it is clear that Mr. Luke is of course that even if Mr. Luke is correct, this does little to alter the fact that it apparently was the library loan that trickered the visit from the DHS, that is after all the real the issue here.

Tony Luke - 12/21/2005

Let's see, a casual reader of this article would jump to the conclusion that those attempting to procure a copy of Mao's book will somehow be transformed into an enemy of the state, that the federal government is out of control, and that the very fabric of our civil liberties is in imminent peril--no one is safe! All that was missing was the obligatory Bush-bashing paragraph.

No doubt the tone and tenor of this article reflects the feelings and opinons of a great many people, especially in academia. However, according to the article itsef, here's what really got this student a visit from federal agents:

"his background, which included significant time abroad, triggered them to investigate the student further."

I suspect this student had some other "warning flags" in his background that also prompted the attention. The countries he visited, whether he was of foreign birth, etc.

This article is classic media misdirection toward partisan aims.