Happy 2nd
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11 April
 Witch-Hunt in Norway  
by Glenn Campbell
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Chapter 12:
Dr. Erik Overgaard Pedersen

April 28, 2014,
Charleston, West Virginia


Pardon me while I sharpen my knives.

I like to have them clean, swift and razor-edged before I start cutting. Messieurs Pedersen, Lamont and Robertson have already made their evaluation of me, deciding that I am not a proper speaker to lecture at their school. Now it is time for me to turn the tables and evaluate them. It is difficult to judge someone's personality without meeting them, but since they felt comfortable doing it for me—declining the option of meeting me—they have given me implied permission to do the same for them.

Frankly, I have a lot more data on them than they had on me at the time they sparked this conflict. I have their emails, and I have something called "Google" which allows you to pull up all sorts of information about people from your laptop. Had these three fine scholars availed themselves of that facility before they engaged me, my ongoing reaction might not have come as a surprise to them.

Of course, the best way to know someone is to meet them in person and interact with them in a variety of circumstances. Nonetheless, you can tell a lot about someone from online interaction alone. Even if it is only words in an email message, their core personality still expresses itself. Even when people hide behind screen names and avatars, their habitual style of operating inevitably shows through. You can often tell from an email whether someone is honest or dishonest, what their insecurities are, how they process information and their general attitude toward life. In this age, most of us know people we have never physically met but who we feel we know well based on online interaction alone. When we finally meet them in person, there may be some surprises in the physical details, but our general assessment of how they operate is usually accurate.

These three characters are the only faculty or staff I know at the school. I recognize they may not be representative of all the staff members there, but they were the people I was required to deal with. We went through a little drama together, a little stress test, and based on that test, I have come to some conclusions about their respective personalities. I am going to devote at least one chapter to each, telling you what I believe about their character and why I believe it. You have access to nearly all of the data I have—both the emails I have already quoted and documents available via Google. You are certainly free to come up with different conclusions than I have, but I believe that mine are soundly grounded based on the facts available.

Let us start where responsibility begins...

Dr. Erik Pedersen


Dr. Pedersen takes students to a human rights conference in
Bergen, Nov. 2012 (source)


2004 photo (source)

Erik Overgaard Pedersen, Phd, is a history teacher at the school. He is also a career history scholar who has authored or co-authored a number of history books for an academic audience, primarily in Danish. He is prominent enough in his field to have a Danish Wikipedia page. That page says he has a doctorate in history from Princeton and has been teaching at Red Cross Nordic since 2009. He celebrates his 64th birthday tomorrow. (Happy Birthday, Dr. P!) In the whole vast Realm of the Internets, I have found only two photos of the Doctor, shown at right. Apparently, he is not a smiley guy.

According to Alistair's Welcome email of April 8, Dr. Pedersen is "the teacher responsible for this activity"—meaning the person in charge of the speaking program. This was the first I had heard that anyone was in charge. I had seen him cc'd in our brief January email exchange (See Chapter 5) but I didn't know what his role was. I knew there was something called the World Today Committee apparently involved in the speaking program, but I didn't know what that consisted of or who was the leader. With Alistair's email, I finally learned Dr. Pedersen was the most responsible party.

The most interesting data about Dr. Pedersen is the lack of data. He is a big non-entity in all of this. He was cc'ed in many of the emails, but I have never seen evidence of a response from him. He has certainly never communicated with me in any form from the time my proposal was submitted on Dec. 15 until the present day. No email, no phone call, no smoke signals, nothing. We know from the cc's in the January emails that he received my proposal, so why didn't he ever respond?

It was sweet of Alistair to welcome me on April 8, but it really wasn't his job. It was Dr. Erik's. We should have made contact back in the year 2013. When I put together my proposal, I was enthusiastic and believed, naively, that my offer would be enthusiastically received. I expected a reply right away. "Thank you!" I dreamed of someone saying, "I'll take a look a this and see if we can use it in our program." As days turned into weeks and months without a response, my enthusiasm waned. Alistair responded on the imaginary funding issue, but Pedersen never responded at all.

Doctor Who? indeed!

On Jan. 4, when I had my fleeting contact with Alistair on the funding issue (Chapter 5), I thought, "Now we're rolling!" The 18-day delay could be rationalized by the holiday and the busy end of term. When I replied to the email Alistair sent Hero, I included all the cc's in the original message—several people I didn't know including Pedersen. I figured one of those people must be the person responsible for the speaking program. Whoever he was, he now had a direct email from me and could easily reply to me to discuss my proposal. He didn't. Alistair bowed out, saying funding was his only responsibility, leaving the same big black void we had before.

I'm afraid that's all Pedersen has been in this process: a big black void. It was perfectly reasonable for a student to "sponsor" me and introduce me to the faculty, but I expected it to be a temporary hand-off. I figured that sooner or later, someone who officially represented the college would take over. More days and weeks went by with no response. Hero seemed as frustrated as I was. Finally, in mid-February, I decided I couldn't wait any longer to buy my plane ticket (for reasons explained in Chapter 29). Hero and I picked a date out of the air, April 11, simply because that was only Friday I could be there when there was nothing else on the school's schedule. I bought my ticket to Bergen on February 10 without the slightest input from Pedersen or anyone else on the staff. It was a shot in the dark that I would be allowed to speak at all.

I realized at that point that I was inviting myself. The entrenched powers at the school didn't really want me, but they would never say so openly and they weren't saying yet I couldn't come. After doing all my planning for a trip to Norway, I decided I would book it anyway. They could either let me speak or not. I wasn't expecting an "invitation" at this point, only grudging tolerance. In mid-February, two months after my proposal, I was so frustrated with the school's inertia that it didn't matter to me whether I spoke. All I knew is that I had a ticket to Bergen, and what happened after I landed was out of my hands.

It wasn't until two weeks before my arrival—a month and a half after I bought my ticket—that the World Today committee finally considered my proposal and seemed to respond positively to it. I heard about it only through Hero. I certainly received nothing that could be construed as an invitation. On March 27, Hero wrote:

Have you received an invitation from the 'World Today' group? You will talk about both topics quite freely. I think they liked you, because they had a long booked schedule but I managed to prioritized you :-)
But, no, I received no invitation. I received not the slightest official acknowledgement that I was speaking until Alistair's April 8 welcome message. Maybe a member of the committee was tasked to contact me, but ultimately it was Pedersen's responsibility.

So how should I evaluate this guy? What words should I use? How about these: "passive to the point of negligence."

Dr. Pedersen may be a scholar of history, but he doesn't seem to grasp his own role in it—that to be a responsible party in anything you have to actually do things.

If I had had contact with a staff member from the beginning, then little bumps on the road like the Abigail matter could have been worked out as they happened. Without direct contact, the administration could only speculate on who I was and what my motives were. When there is a mystery about someone and no channel of communication, speculation and paranoia tend to fill the gap. I would have never grown into an imaginary monster if the point-man who should have contacted me actually did.


Continue to Next Chapter (But don't miss any Notes below ↓ )

↓         Notes and Feedback         ↓

April 29, 11:50 — New comment from the anonymous queue...
Glenn, I think you should accept our help, as you ask for it, here and, really, move on. I think you have more than made your point about the misunderstanding that ensued, the unfairness of it all, the people involved, quite succinctly. Then again, I feel you are beginning to show increasing signs of tunnel vision with this topic. Your initial sentence for this latest chapter, "Pardon me while I sharpen my knives." is somewhat unsettling and begins to show that cracks are forming in this re-telling of non-fiction; it is moving downhill and becoming repetitious...you are losing us here Glenn, probably because we don't have the same emotional investment that you do, but nonetheless, losing us. I have one question... what do you want the result of all this to be?
I answer this with a question: "What good is journalism?" What purpose does it serve in society? If something isn't working in your community, wouldn't you want to know about it? Journalism fills that role. The alternative to honest journalism is hearing only happy stories about your community, regardless of what is really happening. The noblest calling of journalism is to expose the warts of society. Some people may not want these warts exposed, but ultimately it is better to have bad news heard than to sweep it under the carpet. If you suppress bad news, censor it, hide it from view or just decline to discuss it out of "respect", you are guaranteeing the dysfunction will continue and even grow.

"what do you want the result of all this to be?" — In a word, I am looking for "change". I don't know now what the change will consist of, but there will be changes in response to the issues I am raising.


July 19, 2015 — Is that Pedersen in this photo on the School's website posted in June (last month)? Hard to tell. (Could be István Poór, mentioned in the post. Online photos of both Poór and Pedersen are very rare, and I haven't found any clearly labeled photo of Poór. Mystery men.)



 


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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