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I Was a Professor at the Horribly Corrupt American University of Iraq... Until the Neocons Fired Me

Horror stories from the graft-ridden American University of Iraq campus in Kurdistan.

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So that $15,000/mo. salary was only nominally for teaching; the man was actually a lobbyist with connections to the sleaziest and most lucrative crannies of the Southern rightwing elite. When I heard him boasting about his connections to Chambliss, I looked up the good senator and got another involuntary lesson in the utter falseness of the ideals holding up AUIS and its constituency. Saxby Chambliss was elected to the Senate in 2002 thanks to campaign ads showing the incumbent, Max Cleland, next to photos of Osama bin Laden. Even John McCain called the ads “reprehensible.” But that’s not the worst of it: Max Cleland, whose patriotism Chambliss impugned, lost three limbs to a grenade while fighting in Viet Nam. Saxby Chambliss never served, supposedly because he had a bad knee from playing high school football. The knee, of course, miraculously recovered once ol’ Saxby was past draft age.

But there was no time to get angry at the history professor, because by the time the news that he was an unqualified lobbyist came out, we were already trying to deal with a psychotic sexual episode, another classic of rightwing pathology.

This boil-over was especially shameful, because it involved an American male professor abusing and intimidating a woman, a violation of our sacred mission to teach the Kurds to value free, independent women.

The American who boiled over was a strange little fello-- a hollow-eyed fanatic, one of those tenth-generation Calvinists who can’t help meddling in everyone else’s business. And what he hated most, naturally, was … free, independent women.

The woman he decided to obsess about was a foot taller than he was. He didn’t like that. And he didn’t like the fact that she was teaching in Iraq while her husband was back home in the US. Worse still, this woman was in the habit of having lunch with a man -- a tall preppie who was not her husband. This proved unendurable to our mad midget. He started his campaign by glaring at her for weeks -- you know that classic rightwing expression, a mixture of frustrated lust and cowardly rage? And then he decided God wanted him to take action. First he went to have a little pastoral intervention with the tall, dim Preppie guy this woman lunched with. He told the Preppie that, by having a falafel with a married woman, he was threatening the sanctity of marriage and leading the woman into sin.

The preppie had little to say in return. He himself was a classic subspecies of North American Phalangist eugenics: tall, athletic, but not exactly the sharpest oar on the rowing team. I once had to listen to him at a party, drunkenly boasting that he was going to open up a McDonald’s in Sulaimaniya, going on and on about how his father had raised $16 million recently and would have no trouble coming up with the $900,000 he’d need to start a Mickey D’s in Kurdistan.

After screaming at the male preppie, the little Calvinist hunted down the American woman, the real culprit, and harangued her about her sins. She didn’t take it very well, even dared to object to being sermonized. That was when the little fellow lost it completely. He ended up screaming at her, “You’re nothing but a whore, you fucking whore!”

The woman complained to Agresto, who called the little man into his office for a mild scolding. It was interesting that Agresto considered this explosion such a minor infraction. In a real American university the mad midget would have been fired, or placed on psychiatric leave, but after all, he had acted in the defense of traditional values, so his outburst was classed as a misdemeanor, a matter of excessive zeal. He’s still teaching at AUIS, very popular with the administration, loathed by students.

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