sabato, dicembre 24, 2005

Come nascono le leggende urbane

Non sono sicuro che La Republbica ne abbia gia' parlato, ma sarebbe nel suo stile. Uno studente di Boston avrebe ricevuto la visita di due agenti federali dopo aver chiesto in biblioteca il libretto rosso di Mao.
Opinionjournal ricorda che in altri casi, si e' trattato di un falso. E qui non si trovano prove.
Ad essere onesti, non e' chiaro nemmeno se sappiamo chi fosse lo studente visitato dai federali.

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Just this past week there were public reports that a college student in Massachusetts had two government agents show up at his house because he had gone to the library and asked for the official Chinese version of Mao Tse-tung's Communist Manifesto. Following his professor's instructions to use original source material, this young man discovered that he, too, was on the government's watch list.

Think of the chilling effect on free speech and academic freedom when a government agent shows up at your home--after you request a book from the library.

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First of all, " The Communist Manifesto " was written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848, not by Mao, who wasn't born until 1893. More important, this story appears to be a hoax. Here's the American Library Association 's statement:

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A senior at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth says he was visited at his parents' home by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security who were investigating why he had requested a book by former Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong through interlibrary loan. The student, who has asked university officials to shield his identity, told two UMD history professors that the incident took place in late October or early November after he attempted to obtain a copy of the first English edition of the Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung, published in Beijing in 1966 and popularly known in China as the "Little Red Book," for a class on communism.

The story broke in the December 17 New Bedford Standard-Times as the result of an interview with UMD faculty members Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, who mentioned the incident as an example of government monitoring of academic research. Williams told American Libraries, "The student told me that the book was on a watch list, and that the books on this list had changing status. Mao was on the list at the time, hence the visit, which was also related to his time abroad." . . .

The UMD chancellor's office released a statement December 19 that said, "At this point, it is difficult to ascertain how Homeland Security obtained the information about the student's borrowing of the book. The UMass Dartmouth Library has not been visited by agents of any type seeking information about the borrowing patterns or habits of any of its patrons." Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack stated, "It is important that our students and our faculty be unfettered in their pursuit of knowledge about other cultures and political systems if their education and research is to be meaningful."

Kirk Whitworth, a spokesman for the DHS--the U.S. cabinet department that oversees the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, the Secret Service, and Citizenship and Immigration Services, among others--said in the December 21 Standard-Times that the story seemed unlikely. "We're aware of the claims," he said. "However, the scenario sounds unlikely because investigations are based on violation of law, not on the books and individual[s who] might check [them] out from the library."

An earlier report that the incident occurred at the University of California at Santa Cruz has proven false.

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Temo che, come nel caso della lettera di Togliatti o di molti altri, cio' che verra' ricordato sara' la menzogna in prima pagina e non la verita' successivamente accertata.

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