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11 April
 Witch-Hunt in Norway  
by Glenn Campbell
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Chapter 9:
The Battle of Bergen

April 25, 2014,
Queens, New York



The Battle of Kringen, 1612, in which Norwegian
peasants ambushed my ancestors the visiting Scots.
I really think the natives overreacted.
We only came to help!
So I flew from Boston to New York to London to Bergen realizing there was a good chance I would not be speaking at this supposedly elite high school. The administration was looking for an excuse to cancel the lecture. Their opening move, in their first communication with me after nearly 4 months of inaction, was to ask me for a nonsense "reference/recommendation" 72 hours before I was to speak. Alistair gave me no explanation of what this was or who it was supposed to supply it, but I was pretty sure that anything short of a personal endorsement from the Dalai Lama was going to be unacceptable.

In response to the reference request, I composed the carefully crafted message at the end of the last chapter. I was thinking strategically, five chess moves ahead. If the lecture was going to be cancelled, I wanted make sure I brought the issues into clear focus.

In the early afternoon, after changing planes in London, I checked into my hostel in Bergen, logged into wifi and found a message from Mr. Alistair sent a few hours earlier...

Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2014 08:58:30 +0200
Subject: Re: Reference/Recommendation
From: Alistair Robertson <________@staff.rcnuwc.no>
To: Glenn Campbell <glenn@glenn-campbell.com>
Cc: Erik Pedersen <______@staff.rcnuwc.no>

Dear Glenn,

Thankyou for your replies, and I hope you had a restful flight. The reference request was late, I understand.

We normally ask that visitors be on campus over the w/end, to minimise disruption to the weekly programmes.

Please let me know if we can help with accommodation while you're here for Friday night (I assume). Given our rural somewhat remote situation, accommodation is limited but there are rooms available in "Riggen" for 250 NoK / night, that could be reserved?

Alistair.


Even if I could get a reference/recommendation
from this guy, I doubt it would help.
Ha! So I managed to outmaneuvered their "reference/recommendation" ploy, but now they were throwing a new barrier in my path: They wanted me to come only on Friday, the night of my talk, not Thursday as had been planned for the past two months. (I arrived in Bergen on Wednesday.) Back in February, I changed my arrival to Thursday and extended my car rental by one day ($80 more) at the school's own request. My original plan was to arrive on campus on Friday. I would spend two nights in Bergen and drive up to Flekke only on the day of the lecture, precisely for the reasons they stated: to avoid intruding on normal school activities. This changed on February 10, when Hero send me this message....
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 15:38:48 +0100
Subject: Re: UWC Nordic Presentation
From: [Hero] <_______@stud.rcnuwc.no>
To: Glenn Campbell <baddalailama@gmail.com>

Hei hi (Norwegian 'hi'),

Your plan seems so cool! But I need you to know that you need to be at the college on Thursday night or Friday morning; as you will be holding a talk on Friday night at 19:00, which you have to discuss with the members of the activity your talk is taking place on.

And I also would like to inform you about an awesome day you will experience called 'På flukt' (On the run) where our students will be experiencing two days of the life of the refugees on the run. Which is well done in our college. I will take a role play in that; you won't know me anymore. 3:D

Good luck with your [Russian] visa. I'm already having you in some conversations here and there. :-)

Hero's request for a Thursday or Friday morning arrive would seem to imply that Dr. Pedersen, head of the World Today program, had requested it. Why else would Hero make such a request? (Note also that Dr. Erik was cc'ed in Alistair's April 8 email above, but he has never replied or contacted me in any form.) I changed my arrival to Thursday as a courtesy to them, reserving my rental car on that basis (unchangeable at this point without a huge cost increase), but now they were reversing their position by saying didn't want me there an Thursday.

Did you notice something else in Alistair's email? He is actually offering to do something for me—extend me a professional courtesy as it were. I am flying across an ocean, renting a car at my own expense and donating my time so I can speak at the school in an area of my expertise, and now Alistair offered to help me find a room in town for only $42. So sweet! Remember my humble request, back in my Jan. 4 email: "The only thing that might be nice is lodging at or near the college on Friday night." It was touching that Alistair finally came through on that one (kinda).

(The only other thing I dreamed of, but never dared speak aloud, was that someone at this elite campus might actually read my book before I came to speak about it. It was less than 200 pages and available for $5 as an Amazon eBook. I saw now that was far more than I could possibly expect, especially when the topic was assigned to me less than a week before my arrival.)

Cancelling my Thursday arrival was as insane as the earlier "reference/recommendation" request, so I decided this was the point where I should make my stand. My main concern was not the lecture, which I figured probably wouldn't happen, but the huge pressure they had been placing on Hero for the past week because they didn't have the courage to contact me directly. They expected him to vouch for my character and defend me against whatever vague crimes I was accused of. Over the past week, I had been tried in absentia with no knowledge of the charges, and Hero was forced to be my lawyer. For his sake, I wanted to bring this silly game to a close. I carefully composed my reply, fully realizing it would trigger a crisis on the other end....

Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2014 08:10:27 -0400
Subject: Re: Reference/Recommendation
From: Glenn Campbell <glenn@glenn-campbell.com>
To: alistair <alistair@staff.rcnuwc.no>
Cc: Erik Pedersen <_______@staff.rcnuwc.no>, UWCRCN World Today <wt@stud.rcnuwc.no>, Larry Lamont <_______@staff.rcnuwc.no>

> We normally ask that visitors be on campus over the w/end, to minimise disruption to the weekly programmes. <

Alistair ~

I think it is VERY IMPORTANT that we meet on Thursday. I would only come to campus to talk to you and the relevant staff (and hopefully to [Hero]). I can remain off-campus otherwise. The only reason I had scheduled my arrival for Thursday is because [Hero] thought this would be a good time to talk to the staff. If you are telling me now that no meeting can happen on Thursday, then we have another disconnect. If I cannot meet with you, then at least let me meet with Dr. Pedersen or someone else on the World Today staff so we can discuss my presentation.

Thursday is better than Friday because it gives us both some time to adjust to whatever we talk about. If there are changes I need to make to my presentation, I need to know in advance. Under normal circumstances, we should have hashed this all out by email long ago, but communication has been seriously lacking so far.

Please try to see this from my perspective. Months ago, I offered my services as speaker, at my own time and expense, after reading about your Friday program on Wikipedia. I wrote a proposal around Christmas, which I assume you received. I thought that my proposal would either be accepted or politely declined--or that at least we would talk about it. None of this happened. I received no direct communication from the college until your email yesterday, as I am about to step on the plane in your direction.

Now it seems that you are "letting" me speak, but I have still received no invitation and hardly even an acknowledgement that I exist. I am feeling like an intruder who is forcing his way in the door. Now there are conspiracy theories circulating about me that I cannot fathom, and we need to lay them to rest. Misinformation and suspicion can mushroom out of control if you don't actually talk to the person who the rumors are about.

I do not understand your protocol for dealing with speakers. At a college or university in America, someone on the staff would contact me by phone or email, and we would work out all the details of my presentation well in advance. Instead, you seem to prefer to deal only with [Hero]. I think [Hero] had done a fantastic job of mediating between these non-communicating parties, but it shouldn't be his role. He doesn't really represent either me or the college. He is a student! It is great for him to bring my proposal to you, but at some point someone on the staff should have taken over and spoken to me directly.

The thing that upsets me most is how this thoroughly decent guy -- my friend -- has been put through the wringer on my behalf. I can hold my own against any charges or suspicions against me, but it is totally unfair to make [Hero] take the heat. This communication-by-proxy must stop. You must deal with me directly.

I do not understand your protocol, but this is mine: If I am to speak on Friday, then I must meet with at least one person on the staff or faculty on Thursday. It can be ANYONE as long as they represent the college. I can be there any time in the late afternoon, anywhere you tell me to go.

I promise there will be no disruption of your weekly programs. Just tell me where and when.

Glenn Campbell
(now in Bergen)


Nobody ever expects the Spanish Inquisition.
Notice that I threw in a couple of cc's that weren't in Alistair's email. I have no idea at the time who "Larry Lamont" was, but he was included in the January email forwarded to me, so I added it to this one. (He is apparently the Rektor, Richard Lamont, although there is no "L" in his name.) "UWCRCN World Today" at wt@stud.rcnuwc.no also appeared in the January email. I surmise this went to the student members of the World Today committee. It is important to note that this address doesn't go there any more—It was disabled immediately after I published Chapter 1 of this opus—but back then, it still worked, and I think it prompted a more civil response than I might have received otherwise.

After I sent the email above, I went sightseeing! I had just arrived in an interesting new city, Bergen, and I had only a few hours here, so I wanted to wander around. Whatever response they had, I wasn't going let it disrupt my vacation. While out and about in Bergen, I didn't have wifi, but I did have my iPhone. Data rates are very high overseas, so I turn my phone on only for short periods. When I turned the phone on a couple hours after my last email, there was a message waiting. As I expected, the matter had risen to the top of the organization.

From: "Richard" <_______@staff.rcnuwc.no>
To: "'Glenn Campbell'" <glenn@glenn-campbell.com>
Cc: "'Erik Pedersen'" <________@staff.rcnuwc.no>, "'alistair'" <alistair@staff.rcnuwc.no> Subject: RE: Reference/Recommendation
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2014 15:37:23 +0200

Dear Glenn,

I am between meetings and have just read the correspondence below.

I recommend that you speak directly to Alistair and Erik on the phone this afternoon to go carefully through what looks like a series of misunderstandings. I have asked both of them to be available to speak with you at 4.30pm (Norwegian time). Please let Alistair know the number to contact you on.

I shall also ask Erik, as the member of staff in charge of World Today, to speak in person with his WT student team to clear up any misunderstandings.

Kind regards

Richard

Richard D A Lamont
Rektor

[Note: "the correspondence below" refers to only the tail end of my exchange with Alistair, not his original email and my first reply, which were private emails. This will have significance later, when we will see the Rektor was acting on incomplete information from Alistair.]

It was about 4pm when I received the message above, but I wasn't going for the phone call option. Voice communication with Drs. Pedersen and Robertson would just be more of the insane demands of the previous emails—apart from being horrendously expensive for me. If we were going to dispel the growing paranoia about my visit, they had to meet me in person. I composed a reply from my iPhone....

Cc: Glenn Campbell , Erik Pedersen <________@staff.rcnuwc.no>, alistair <alistair@staff.rcnuwc.no>
From: Glenn Campbell <baddalailama@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Reference/Recommendation
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2014 15:47:44 +0200
To: Richard <_______@staff.rcnuwc.no>

There is a problem: my only phone is an American one where the calls cost two dollars a minute. It is cheaper to come to Flekke, which I intend to do anyway.

I regret that telephone will not work out. It will have to be in person.

{Dictated to Siri on my iPhone}

That claim was correct: My American cellphone carrier charges $2/minute for calls while roaming in Europe, whether I place them or receive them, even if the call is local. I am willing to pay $2/minute for some calls, but not for an open-ended one with little hope of success.

I left my cellphone turned on and a few minutes later I received an email directly from Alistair, with no cc's to anyone else...

Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2014 15:53:22 +0200
Subject: Re: Reference/Recommendation
From: Alistair Robertson <_______@staff.rcnuwc.no>
To: Glenn Campbell <baddalailama@gmail.com>

Dear Glenn,

I can call your hostel in Bergen: please send a number.

Please understand, I have never suggested the need to review your presentation before-hand: the WT group has invited you to present it and interact with students Friday evening.

Alistair.

You can tell Alistair is sweating, but again his message is irrational on multiple levels. The administration seems paranoid about my presence on campus, yet they don't seem to care what I am going to talk about in my lecture. They haven't communicated with me in any meaningful way in the four months since my proposal, so there was no opportunity to talk about the content of my speech. This conversation had to take place sometime, and it was better to do it 24 hours in advance than 15 minutes before.

And there's that strange word again: "invite". When was I invited? Was I informed of this invitation? Somehow, I did't get the memo.

I wrote back to Alistair from my iPhone with no cc's....

From: Glenn Campbell <baddalailama@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Reference/Recommendation
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2014 16:03:57 +0200
To: <alistair@staff.rcnuwc.no>

It would be really awkward to talk about this matter in the hostel common room surrounded by other travelers. I am coming to Flekke tomorrow. If the staff is uncomfortable with meeting me on the campus we could meet in Flekke itself. I will not come onto campus unless I have permission.

{Dictated to Siri on my iPhone}

In fact, I didn't even know if my hostel had a public phone, since I was walking around Bergen at the time. I checked later, and there wasn't one at the hostel, only the office phone behind the check-in counter. (I certainly couldn't use that for a half-hour call, and I saw no payphones on my tour of Bergen. Do such things still exist?)

It is very important to note that I was giving Alistair a third option: They could meet me in the town of Flekke about 1.5 miles from the campus. I suspect this is where most of the staff live. I'm sure there could be a pub or someplace similar where we could meet without my setting foot on campus. (I will talk more about this more in Chapter 15.)

Alistair replied, without CC's...

Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2014 16:06:49 +0200
Subject: Re: Reference/Recommendation
From: Alistair Robertson <_________@staff.rcnuwc.no>
To: Glenn Campbell <baddalailama@gmail.com>

Please, we can chat. We look forward to welcoming you here, to do your presentation. Larry - the Rektor - insists we speak beforehand, to clarify matters.

Alistair.

I sent back...
From: Glenn Campbell <baddalailama@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Reference/Recommendation
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2014 16:11:10 +0200
To: "alistair@staff.rcnuwc.no" <alistair@staff.rcnuwc.no>

Just tell me when and where on Thursday. Anytime after 3 PM. 4 PM is better. Evening is good too. Just one more thing: I want [Hero] there, so you'll have to accommodate his schedule.

Things will go much more smoothly once you actually meet me.

{Dictated to Siri on my iPhone}

I figured after all Hero had been through on my behalf, he deserved to be part of our negotiations if he wanted to be—although I had not asked him. At this point I think he just wanted the whole crisis to go away and for his school to back to the way he once thought of it. In a private message to Hero a few hours earlier, I wrote...
I think your response to any question they ask about me should now be "Ask him yourself!"
I was still sightseeing and my phone battery was about to give out, so I thought I needed to send them all one more message. I composed this on my iPhone, CC'ed to everyone...
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 2014 16:59:39 +0200
From: Glenn Campbell <baddalailama@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Reference/Recommendation
To: Richard <________@staff.rcnuwc.no>
Cc: Glenn Campbell <glenn@glenn-campbell.com>, Erik Pedersen <_______@staff.rcnuwc.no>, alistair <alistair@staff.rcnuwc.no>

FYI: i'm going to catch some sleep now. Long journey from Boston! I expect to be in Flekke by about 15:00 Thursday. Maybe by then we can figure out where I should be.

{Dictated to Siri on my iPhone}

And that's exactly what I did. My cellphone shut itself down, so there was no more communicating. I walked back to the hostel, plugged my phone into its charger and took a nap.

Continue to Chapter 10


Happy 2nd
Anniversary
11 April
 Witch-Hunt in Norway  
by Glenn Campbell
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 Next Chapter Facebook Anonymous Feedback
Videos: Leadership Crisis | Finnmark | Tiny Little War | Assault Summary | College Choices | Introduction
Changes to this document are now recorded on the Facebook Page - Active in Summer 2016!
This document is a work in progress, subject to change. Its appearance on Google remains negotiable.

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