The “effa bee eye” may be coming to a campus near you

The Thing Movie PosterAccording to the Press Esc blog the FBI is offering to brief universities on how to identify an international spy on campus, here are some of the indicators listed:

Unexplained affluence, failing to report overseas travel, showing unusual interest in information outside the job scope, keeping unusual work hours, unreported contacts with foreign nationals, unreported contact with foreign government, military, or intelligence officials, attempting to gain new accesses without the need to know, and unexplained absences are all considered potential espionage indicators.

Save for the unexplained affluence, I’m a serious target on every count. In fact, I have even gone so far as to hole up with a foreign national. This list goes to show the way in which draconian abstraction makes everyone a potential threat. It’s just like John Carpenter’s The Thing, pretty soon we’ll be doing blood tests with blow torches to separate the “aliens” from the “red-blooded Americans.”

On a much more important level, the U.S. has benefited tremendously from the influx of international students who bring new ideas, ways of reading, and imagining to our campuses. How many of these students, to the detriment of colleges and universities throughout the U.S., will be far more willing to take their talents to Canada, Mexico, Europe, China, or some other nation that doesn’t treat everyone with a foreign passport as a potential on-campus spy. Additionally, how does this affect the rest of US culture? Where would US film history be without the influx during the 1930s and 40s of so many brilliant European filmmakers like Billy Wilder, Ernst Lubitsch, and Fritz Lange, or acting giants like Peter Lorre, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. Ironically, these unequaled giants of Hollywood were fleeing the horrific realities of Nazi Germany? How many people know that Thomas Mann wrote Doctor Faustus in Los Angeles? Or that Bertolt Brecht had to flee the U.S. soon after the end of World War II because of suspicions that he was a spy for the communists (he was called to testify before HUAC in 1947 and was blacklisted)? Paranoid isolationism kills the powerful possibility of a variegated and multivalent imagination and decimates a culture’s very vitality. I’ll quote the princess who I love so dearly for her fearlessness in speaking out against the excesses of Empire, “The tighter you clench your first, the more star systems will slip between your fingers.”

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5 Responses to The “effa bee eye” may be coming to a campus near you

  1. let’s see… The “What Would Jim Groom” fanclub on Facebook… Unexplained travel to a “conference” in Canada… Interest in topics well outside the realm of normal professorship… attempting to gain access to services outside the scope of the institution…

    for the record, I’ve never met Jim Groom. I don’t know him. I have no idea who he is. I think he may have a shadow agent leaving fake online correspondences to make it appear as though he knows me for some reason, but I have no knowledge of the individual claiming to be Professor Jim Groom…

    Ah, hell. I can’t lie… Give me a ticket to Gitmo. I haven’t been to Cuba. Sounds like a nice place. I’ll even proudly wear my Reverend Jim shirt!

  2. Andy Rush says:

    Oh, and Jim, for the past few days, our office in duPont has been under “construction”. Jerry has been cooperating, er, I mean updating us with the progress. It should only be a couple more days. I’m glad I met you. Gotta go . . .

    P.S. Don’t forget the British Invasion in ’64 – the best year ever!

  3. jimgroom says:

    This may be a very good time to disassociate yourself from the bava 😉 I’m sorry for this PSA, but it keeps getting harder to restrain myself. particularly when the egregious disregard of individual freedoms, difference, and community are brought to college campuses throughout the nation. A community of learning is essential to high caliber intellectual experience -what message do these directives send? Who are these purported spies and what are they looking for? There is no question that any nation and any time could be subject to terror, and the US most certainly has been as we are all aware. But at what point do these threats of external terror begin to erode the very sinews of trust, community, and faith that makes any culture worth preserving? There has to be a difference between vigilance and reactionary paranoia. The framing of an indeterminate enemy in our midsts is akin to bringing back the devastating of not too distant history wherein people were being asked to testify about one another’s loyalties? Are you, or have you ever been, “a spy posing as a college student to get unknown secrets for an unknown army in an uncertain war?” “No, sir, I’m just a lowly ed tech geek with a penchant social justice.”

    @Andy -I’ll disregard your British Invasion comment for the moment. For, as I am always learning there is always a hole in every theory 🙂

  4. I can’t think of a better place for The Man to focus efforts to dissuade individuals from thinking for themselves, questioning authority and the status quo. What better way to maintain a hegemony, than by ensuring that students attending institutions of higher learning don’t feel free to experiment and push the boundaries. Instead, they are pushed toward xenophobia, suspicion of “strangers” and general fear of the unknown. That way, the leaders are free to read stories about goats as events unfold around them, and nobody will hold their feet to the coals, because they don’t know any better…

  5. jimgroom says:

    Amen, pastor from above (or would that be from up on high or simply from the North?).

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