Thursday, July 14, 2005

Security Clearance

While Clinton was president, I taught creative writing via the Internet to the U.S. military in Europe. My students could be anywhere from Iceland to Turkey, but the main office, so to speak, was Frankfurt. I thought I was very cool. Months before NATO entered Bosnia, my best student was there. He was my only Jewish student and had been a semi-professional soccer player in Europe before joining the military and special forces. He was sent to Bosnia on a secret mission--really, he indicated it was a secret mission, and that’s why he had to drop my course. But, as for me, that course soon became a tedious job; it amounted to grading papers. Many colleagues were divorce exiles, i.e. fathers avoiding alimony and child-support payments in the U.S. At least they were actually in Europe. In those days the recruitment slogan was, “Be all you can be.” Sergeants would leave the military after 20 years with a B.A. Yet somehow I didn’t get along with sergeants. And what I thought were unique interactions with my students were, in fact, clichéd commonplaces to a huge branch of the American educational establishment. I wanted to quit, but the computers kept feeding me students. Finally, the U.S.S. Cole was bombed, and an F.B.I. agent in Frankfurt reviewed my security clearance. She sent dumb questionnaires. I got cheeky. I called her a cretin. I didn’t know she was German. The German asked the dean, “what’s a cretin?” Upon receiving the correct answer, she cancelled my security clearance.


Blogger Kirby Olson said...

Where do I sign up to teach in the military? Sounds like fun!

3:05 PM  
Blogger Halvard Johnson said...

Try the University of Maryland University College. It runs programs in Europe and Asia in which I taught for several years ('73-'84). Great way to travel and see the world w/o actually being *in* the military.


PS: Hello, Michael. It's been years.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Kirby Olson said...

Thanks, Hal. Sounds like Michael didn't have to travel, though. I hate travelling now. Just like to sit around on the property eyeing up the indigo buntings.

9:59 AM  

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