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Commentary :: Education : Human Rights
The Most Sincere Words Ed Ever Uttered
10 Apr 2012
All across the world everyday people go through trying situations ranging from the innocuous to the immoral and the inhuman. There are varying degrees and people can experience everything from temporarily misplacing keys to undergoing the cruelest mistreatment such as torture for things like having an unpopular religion or writing opinion or journalistic pieces people in certain governments find inconvenient. In between are the things people go through that slide into slots all over the spectrum. These things include the harassment some go through due to things like race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, lifestyle and more.
I understand harassment to an extent as I have experienced it firsthand. When I was a student at the University of Connecticut I was harassed for, among other things, race. It was 2003, right after the attacks on America of September 11, 2001, and the tension, fear and paranoia in the air was thick enough to bite down on.

A certain professor in the program I intended to major in began dropping strong hints he did not like my race and believed I was a terrorist because of it. Since 9-11 I was used to a baseline of implied insults and I let it roll of my back pretty much. Anyone that looked like they were from "that part of the world" can tell you what it was like. What those harassing most of us could not understand was that we too were angry, scared and horrified as we watched the attacks on TV that day.

The professor continued harassing me, and eventually conscripted certain students from within the degree program to aid them with the harassment. It became a daily routine for me to hear implied and subtle insults and threats regarding my race and connections to 9-11. I would hear things about events from my past also like about ex-girlfriends for example. This was odd as there were no people I knew there personally, and no one with access to all that information that I knew of. The degree program only accepted twenty one students per graduating class and there were only four professors when I started.

I just chalked it up to happenstance and reading too much into it as without knowing where it was coming from, it would have been just the kind of thing that creates paranoia. I had enough to be concerned with just trying to balance my college workload.

The harassment continued with specific parameters set up by those leading it. The idea was to get me out of the program by one of three basic methods. They wanted me to quit due to all the harassment, flunk out due to the harassment or react out of anger due to it and do something to get myself kicked out. It was well thought out, and I always wondered why they kept at it essentially ratcheting up the pressure each time I survived another attempt.

The attempts I refer to were basically strategies to put the desired pressure on me through the harassment. Though they happened on different occasions, they were usually variations on a handful of basic themes with minor alterations here or there. Whether they were strategies meant to put a great amount of pressure on me and hit me at once, or plans meant to slowly turn up the pressure so before I knew it I felt overwhelmed and unable to get a solid footing, they never stopped.

I decided, because so much of it was either subtle, set up so there would be a level of plausible deniability or the kind of thing that could be easily turned around on me by my saying one thing and three or four others saying another, I would just try and stick it out. On numerous occasions my harassers implied they would deny anything I said if a complaint surfaced, and I didn't believe I had anything strong enough to be proven tangibly. Even the grading was subjective and required no real criteria outside of the professor doing the grading giving their own personal.

But, in the first semester of my senior year I decided enough was enough. I wanted it to stop. I felt the harassment was beyond what was reasonable even with 9-11. I talked to a person I considered at the time to be an on again off again friend named Ed, and told him I planned to complain formally. We had talked about the behavior on numerous occasions, and both said it was discriminatory, racist and wrong. At least that's what he had told me up until that point.

When I revealed my plans to complain, he started trying to convince me not to do it. He did this over and over until it was pretty much obvious to him I was ticked off beyond mere redirection. He then admitted had been working for law enforcement in an undercover capacity and had been on campus for eight years doing so. He said if I went public it could ruin some of the work he had done.

He also said there were other persons in the program doing the same thing, and one in particular, named Vivian that had been doing the same thing at a college in New York just before coming to UConn, would be exposed too. He apparently thought this would make me think twice, feel a certain sympathy and trust and endear himself and the rest like him to me.

He was wrong. After all why would it? He had just taken my level of suspicion to a new level and shown me I was right in thinking the people harassing me knew more than your average person could about me. It was wrong and now I knew someone from the government was involved.

Ed lied to and fooled me for years and it was his job and profession. Further you could tell he enjoyed it. He was acting like a king on a parade.

He was even elected president of his all Latin fraternity - they of course did not know he was a cop. Why did law enforcement need to do that? Here in America, if law enforcement wants to monitor people that's one thing, but to go undercover to get them to do their bidding? What was that?

It stunk. After graduating, which I managed to do, I remembered something Ed once said to me in a conversation. He said he had no friends and wanted none. This guy surrounded himself with people and was the life of the party all the time. He was the center of attention always and that's how he gained people's trust and gamed them as he had me.

Yet, at the heart of that was a person that really stayed suspicious of people always and could not trust. So, he invented a person that had this huge persona for all to be drawn to. I would imagine there is some training within law enforcement for undercover work he went through for part of that.

I learned from observing and reflecting on him the kind of people that did what Ed did really had no friends and naturally distrusted people in general. They remained skeptical, for whatever personal reasons of their own, be it something from their childhood, later on or something in their biological makeup, of the inherent good in people and humanity itself. They had no problem in deceiving and controlling, and, like Ed, they often enjoyed doing it at taxpayer expense.

Ed lied to and fooled me - an innocent person - including participating in the harassment, and he obviously had done it to many others for years by his own admission. All the people he met, those he pretended to help so he could gain their trust, were all simply marks to be toyed with and made. He hadn't done it one time and then stopped. He forged a career out of it. He made a life lying to all those he called friends and spent all his time with.

As I look back on my experience during that time and think of him and that one comment, no truer words were ever uttered by him. It was at the core of who he was and how he saw the world and had to be, as it was and must be for those like him. They are good at pretending to be like you and me - really good sometimes, they know what makes us tick and they even get a rise out of it. But, they don't feel like you and me, they don't empathize like you and me and they don't relate to others as human beings like you and me.

The guy spent eight years at UConn pretending to be people's friends, and doing the sort of things he had done to me, and most likely to others, on a regular basis. Every day in some cases. As Ed said, at the bottom of it they really have no friends.

That also goes for people that enjoy harassing and treating people poorly to make themselves feel better without getting paid to do so. The level of insecurity they must feel is unlike that expressed by most people. They just can't see others as being like themselves, and are always looking for people to abuse. Thus, even those like themselves that they call friends, never really are. Instead they're people to make themselves feel better about what they do - to make them feel as if they are more like us, even though they aren't. To them the rest of humanity are the people on the other side of that psychological glass bubble they can never seem to escape - unfortunately for them.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to
See also:

This work is in the public domain
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