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eXiled Alert! / November 4, 2010

auis student logo exiled online

Earlier this month, The eXiled’s John Dolan published an explosive account about his year in Iraq teaching at the American University in Sulaimani, the capital of the Kurdish-controlled region in the north of the country. The university, known by its acronym AUIS, turned out to be little more than a corrupt neocon feeding trough for Republican Party faithful, a multi-million-dollar sinkhole headed up by a notorious Reagan-era neocon named John Agresto. Earlier this summer, Agresto read a 5-year-old exile article written by Dr. Dolan that was critical of the Iraq war and the neocons who cheered it on—and Agresto summarily fired Dr. Dolan for it.

The firing and Dr. Dolan’s expose created a bit of a shitstorm in Sulaimani—we are reposting an interview that Dr. Dolan gave to a local blog run by students at the AUIS program:Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dr. John Dolan: I Needed Money to Live that is Why I Accepted to Teach at AUI-S….We were Told to Pretend that We were Teaching You like American Students…Dr. Agresto didn’t Fire Me Because of Missing Classes, He Fired Me Because of the Article

What you read here, is an exclusive interview with Dr. John Dolan, a former professor of English Composition and Literature at the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani. He was fired by the AUI-S administration in August. He answers many important questions on his relations with the AUI-S administration, the faculty members, and the students. He also clarifies some points mentioned in his article.

Most of the people who have read your article say, “Why didn’t he write a critical article while he was at AUI-S?”

I valued my job and I did not want to offend a capricious and ideologically blinkered administration.

Some students feel disgraced by your article? In many places you have made references to AUI-S students that illustrates us as “rough-looking, wimpy, academically incapable and etc.. why?

It was in no way my intention to disgrace the students. I should explain that in American culture, it is fashionable both to be tough looking (think Clint Eastwood) and to be wimpy and urbane (think Johnny Depp).  My point in the paragraph you refer to was that Kurds and Arabs are different, you have a history of conflict and Americans can’t wish that history away overnight.By the way, I never said or thought that students were academically incapable. I said that the ESL course had not prepared them well for university courses in English.Finally, let me refer you to the following paragraph where I express my sincere admiration for students:

I want to say clearly here how much I like and admire the people of Suli, my students in particular. They were a wonderful change from the timid, bland kids I’ve encountered in my recent North American teaching experiences. Most of the students at AUIS could name relatives tortured or killed by Saddam, or in the vicious Kurdish civil war of the 1990s, and nearly all of them were studying in an alien language they’d had little chance to learn properly. Yet they were smart, funny and without self-pity.

Dr. Agresto has told the faculty members that there is enough proof to fire Dr. Dolan, a faculty member told us that the evidence were convincing? What have you done to deserve firing?

Dr. Agresto sent me an email telling me explicitly that I was no longer welcome at AUI-S because I was the author of a satirical article. The article is critical of neo-conservative figures in American politics, many of whom are personal friends of Agresto. The article has been available since 2005, four years before he hired me.He provided no other evidence that I should be fired.

agresto mediocrity exiled

America’s verdict on John Agresto back in 1986

Is there any link between you and the AUI-S Watch blog? Have you provided the blog with any classified content?

There is no link whatever between me and the AUI-S Watch blog.

You said that the neo-cons have fired you. Is there a war between the neo-cons and the liberals at AUI-S? Why there are still faculty members who publicly say they are liberals?

I don’t know if there is a war between neo-cons and liberals at AUI-S.  I never heard a teacher call him- or herself a liberal in earshot of the administration when I was there.

Some students said that Dr. Dolan himself was not a good example. He missed many classes, finished the class always before its time, and didn’t have clear criteria for grading?

Of course, the students are entitled to their point of view. It is absolutely true that I was very ill for most of the time I was at AUI-S. Dizzy spells, nausea and continuous vomiting led to several short classes and a few sick days. On the other hand, I believe I am a good teacher. I have a doctorate in rhetoric from a respected university and have taught many subjects in universities all over the world for twenty five years. Probably these students think, correctly, that the only logical reason for a university to fire a teacher is if that teacher performs poorly in his or her role as a teacher. The students’ mistake is in concluding that the university is always logical in its decisions. In fact, Dr. Agresto himself thought I was a good teacher; that is why he offered me a new contract after observing my class. He consistently failed to mention any complaints from students about my teaching, even when he fired me. The reason Dr. Agresto fired me was not logical but emotional — I wrote articles that conflicted with his political views and that made him feel bad.

In your article, you have not mentioned anything good about AUI-S. Does that mean that there is nothing good about AUI-S? if it is so, why did you accept to teach at AUI-S and even extend it for the second time?

My article’s focus is the administration’s comic stupidity and hypocrisy. The good things about AUI-S exist in spite of this hypocrisy. There are several fantastic teachers who stay up late carefully grading students’ work and who get up with the morning call to prayer in order to prepare for classes. There are students like you, who welcome every opportunity to question the truth and to grapple with new ideas. I accepted my position at AUI-S because I enjoy teaching and because I needed money to live.

You have mentioned or described some professors specifically in your article. There is a professor you have mentioned and he is known to be a popular professor among the students. Why have you specifically picked him up among all the other professors?

The answer to this question can be found in my article.

auis professors unhappy exiled online

The American faculty and the Iraqi students all have a kind of hope in AUI-S and believe that it will be a success, what do you think?

Many of the teachers at AUI-S are enthusiastic and dedicated to their students. Many of the students are very bright and destined for great things. However, the success of any university depends on how much the administration; the administration at AUI-S fails both the educators and the students.

There seems to be a kind of cooperation between you and Mark Grueter, another faculty member fired from the university. Is that true?

I have exchanged emails with Mark and met him in person all of two times. I’m not sure what you mean by “cooperation” but it sounds rather sinister! Both of us are writers and both of us have written truthfully about our impressions of AUI-S. There is no more to it than that.

On the unfortunate rape accident, were the rapists charged or punished?

According to what Dr. Joshua Mitchell, the rapists were caught and imprisoned.

Have you gotten a new job? Could you explain your status right now…

I am working on my next book.

How do you evaluate AUI-S students?

AUI-S students are smart, fearless, energetic, always ready to try (and in a second language, which is not easy).They are loyal to one another and have pride in themselves and their heritage.

You have said in the article that if you had graded AUI-S students any other American students, two third of them would have failed. Why didn’t you grade them that way? What would have been the consequences?

Compare a student who has attended EWPLI classes for four years with an American student who has been learning English nonstop for eighteen years. Will they have the same ability? No. No matter how brilliant a second-language learner is (whether from France or Nigeria or Iraq or Brazil), he or she will not be fluent so quickly.

Dr. Agresto explicitly informed us that we were not ESL teachers and therefore should not spend any significant time addressing problems that arose from foreign-language issues. In effect, we were ordered to pretend that any such problems did not exist and to teach you in exactly the way we would teach American students. Imagine if I learned Kurdish or Arabic for two years – do you think I would speak as well as you? Of course not. We could not acknowledge mistakes because that would mean you were different from American students. Of course, you ARE different, since English is your second or third (or fourth!) language, but for some reason we were not allowed to admit that.

Is there anything else you want to tell Student Voice readers? Secrets, news or suggestions?

I encourage Student Voice readers to keep reading and questioning things that are important to you. I also encourage you to raise your own voices. The world is interested in you, in the times you have lived through and in what you have to say.

Editor’s Note:

It is obvious that interviews do not express a publisher’s. say a blog’s, opinion. However, this interview might be approached with suspicion due to the bad end of the relations between the AUI-S administration and Dr. John Dolan. What has been said, belongs to Dr. Dolan and we recognize the right for anyone mentioned in the interview or not to respond.

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40 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. Destro  |  November 4th, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    “unfortunate rape accident”

  • 2. vortexgods  |  November 4th, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Actually, it’s probably good that he made disparaging comments about the students, it will make the school administration less inclined to punish them to get back at him.

  • 3. Doug  |  November 4th, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Does this mean we’re going to start seeing new War Nerd articles now that Dolan isn’t afraid of pissing off his employers?

  • 4. Derp  |  November 4th, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Derp derp derp! Reagan’s buddies love Agresto so clearly he’s a saint!

    How dare you criticize anyone that a buddy of Reagan love? Reagan is magical and all his buddies have that magic, and all their buddies have some magic on em too! Ron Reagan just has a lot of semen on him!

    Derp derp derp derp!

  • 5. Fatty Arbuckle  |  November 4th, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Dolan, you must respond!!! ^^^

  • 6. matt  |  November 4th, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Dolan’s working on a new book!

  • 7. Strelnikov  |  November 5th, 2010 at 3:25 am

    Destro, they’re trying; English is confusing as hell to people with non-European language backgrounds.

    Agresto is pulling the old Scientology trick of denouncing everybody who has left the “church” as incompetent, immoral, pathological liars, etc. Which begs the question if they were that substandard, why did you allow them to be members of your group, and if they had positions of power, why were they promoted? Agresto is twenty pounds of shit in a five pound bag; a manipulative, bombastic, tone-deaf liar who was too incompetent for a job in the US, so he hauled off to Kurdistan to run a half-assed version of a community college. I hope that the locals drag him into the desert behind a jeep and skull-fuck him to death.

  • 8. CapnMarvel  |  November 5th, 2010 at 4:54 am

    Spiteful Neo-Con Administration is spiteful. Who knew?

    Dolan can leave with a clean conscience as he’s made clear his feelings about his students and fellow teachers are distinct from his feelings about the administration at the school. Perhaps as a result, a student will begin to think critically about what he or she is being taught, or a teacher will begin to consider whether their own lesson plans are colored by the political aims of the administration, and reject that coloration. Probably not, but Dolan’s done his job.

    And now, John Dolan, back to work on the book. We’re waiting…

  • 9. General Foods  |  November 5th, 2010 at 4:56 am

    It would be unfortunate if someone burned down Dr. Agresto’s vineyards.

  • 10. Diet Coke  |  November 5th, 2010 at 5:13 am

    Rape happens.

  • 11. Lavrentij "Anarchy99" Lemko  |  November 5th, 2010 at 7:12 am

    AUI-S sounds like a great place to live the life of the mind and, aside from the great pay, to prosper physically and intellectually for a long time, as we Vulcans are wont to say.

  • 12. Derp  |  November 5th, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Derp derp! Ah demand a look at that Coulter porn! For, uh…. research purposes. Derp.

  • 13. John Drinkwater  |  November 5th, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Is that picture for real? Isn’t AUIS a university, not a fucking grade school?

  • 14. Victor Villain  |  November 5th, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Speaking of Dolan interviews,

    http://antiwar.com/radio/2010/11/02/gary-brecher/

  • 15. Ciorba  |  November 5th, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    @9
    I believe they’re referring to this article:
    http://exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=7809&IBLOCK_ID=35&phrase_id=47976&PAGE=2
    Although the relevant picture was apparently removed in the last few months (now what am i supposed to fap to?)

  • 16. Destro  |  November 5th, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Strelnikov, regarding your statement “English is confusing as hell to people with non-European language backgrounds.” If the language is Kurdish, it is in fact an Indo-European language.

  • 17. JD  |  November 6th, 2010 at 8:09 am

    I don’t always agree with Dolan’s politics, but I don’t think anyone can make a case that Dolan isn’t a brilliant writer, and if I were a student of his, I’d feel pretty fortunate.

    The fact that PJ O’Rourke’s books often make the best-seller lists, while “the war nerd” did not, is probably more of an unpleasant commentary of our society, than of Dolan’s brilliance as a writer.

    However, being “too smart for the room,” is a problem Dolan is going to have to figure out on his own, to avoid situations like this, since “the room” will never change.

    For Dolan, I would suggest a “no tears” approach to assholes plying their trade to be the best policy.

    Forget it, and move on to more creative pursuits. Keep working hard. Don’t waste energy debating fools. Your audience will find you.

  • 18. rj  |  November 6th, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    If the poor wee mites at AUIS felt “disgraced” by JD’s comments, they should see the things he writes about his former students in New Zealand.

    That said, though, the Iraqis probably didn’t make T-shirts against him.

  • 19. Bester  |  November 6th, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    It’s no wonder muslims find it offensive that in that picture they fuck Ann Coulter! Who wouldn’t be?!

  • 20. Lewis Black  |  November 6th, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    FUCK!

  • 21. thus_speaketh_the_butt_trumpet  |  November 7th, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    English is the most fucked-up language on the planet. Let me explain: It’s a hodgepodge of several different languages, plus tons of add-ons, neologisms, borrowed words, trade-speak, etc. Every rule has several exceptions. I love English but I’d hate to have to learn it as an adult or near-adult. I’m pretty sure I’d love or hate teaching it.

  • 22. senorpogo  |  November 7th, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Ah, the language barrier! It comes through even in that interview.

    I hope John’s students in Iraq recognize that he’s one of the few remaining honest Americans. Wouldn’t call him good, rich, or pretty, but he is honest.

    And I am very excited at the prospect of a new book. That’s a real book, right? Not some academic paper-wasting, tree-killer?

  • 23. Will  |  November 8th, 2010 at 10:23 am

    How much the administration…what?

  • 24. Zhu Bajie  |  November 8th, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    So, is the blog on a AUI-S Computer? Or some place more independent?

  • 25. Jarod  |  November 9th, 2010 at 6:57 am

    @1

    LAWL!!

    “I’m sorry, your honor. I fell over the poor lady and my cock got caught in her twat.”

  • 26. GhostUnit  |  November 9th, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    @23. thus_speaketh_the_butt_trumpet

    English is the most fucked-up language on the planet? you must be joking.

    There are many things to like aboout English from a language learning perspective, such as: no gender in nouns (for an example of how much that can fuck-up a language take a look at German or Russian), very little of the nominative/accusative/dative/genitive mess (again, look at German or Russian), uses an alphabet (may seem obvious, but just take a look at the horrible mess that are languages that use ideograms such as Chinese (all of them) and Japanese) and the grammar is actually relatively simple, clear and perhaps more importantly, unambiguous (try to learn Japanese and you will enter a world of confusion due to the ambiguity in the grammar). I find English grammar to have the best balance I have seen between complexity and ambiguity.

    However, English spelling and pronunciation are a mess indeed, but nothing that a lot of practice can’t remedy. English could probably also benefit of a greater adoption of clear-sounding vocals (like in Spanish or Japanese).

    Also, consider that English has by far the largest amount of learning resources available, on-line and otherwise. Lessons everywhere, books of every sort, movies, video and so on. Contrast this with other languages, you will find that getting quality material is significantly harder.

    Anyways, as for the word-loaning aspect of English, every language does this and English is actually sorta well-suited for it. It’s actually great that English has loaned so much, since that has made it grow and gave it a vocabulary greater than perhaps any other current language. For an example of a language that is a nightmare to try and borrow foreign words, look at Chinese.

  • 27. Derp  |  November 9th, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Derp derp! Them sand folks is a bunch of Commie faggots, they deleted my pro-Agresto post on their blog! Derp derp!

  • 28. Strelnikov  |  November 10th, 2010 at 2:44 am

    @ Destro

    You got me; I forgot that Kurdish was Indo-European…. I was thinking that maybe the kids were learning in Arabic to keep up the sham that AUI-S is an Iraqi school because whether we like it or not, Kurdistan is no longer Iraq.

  • 29. Carlito  |  November 11th, 2010 at 8:38 am

    @26

    I agree. Inconsistent spelling and unclear phonemes is what is fucked in English. But also the non-intuitive grammatical tenses.

  • 30. Zhu Bajie  |  November 11th, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Derp = Agresto? Or a butt-buddy?

  • 31. thus_speaketh_the_butt_trumpet  |  November 12th, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Ghost-Unit you’re right, I forgot about all the genders, different names for numbers for counting long things, flat things …. etc. And the whole pictographs problem. Yes there are a lot of lovable things about English. The alphabet. Borrowing words from other languages without prejudice. The easy availability of learning materials, just about everywhere. Sesame Street and Marvel Comics and Finnigan’s Wake ….. Finnigan’s Wake? OK maybe I’m not sure about that one.

  • 32. Boozer  |  November 14th, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    WE WANT WAR NERD, NOT DOLAN!

  • 33. RR  |  November 16th, 2010 at 2:32 am

    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/06/11/iraq

  • 34. John Drinkwater  |  November 19th, 2010 at 6:23 am

    You lousy parasite. The war nerd is Dolan, of course. And you should be grateful to get either considering the likelihood that you’d contributed nothing whatsoever to the cause of the man’s existence. I prefer Dolan over War Nerd myself. The “pre-legy” of Hitchens alone…

  • 35. Derp  |  November 22nd, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Derp derp derp! Where is that Ann Coulter porn? I demand someone post that Coulter porn! Derp derp!

  • 36. Shamil Basayev  |  November 22nd, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Is exiledonline going the way of exile.ru? Nothing new on this site since Nov 4. Here at the Commisioner’s office, the people demand an update on papal rubbers, or the number of Anna Chapman action dolls handed out to the mujahid kiddies in downtown Smamilkala. Publish or die! Издать или умереть!

  • 37. Dejo  |  November 22nd, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Did Dolan create the false persona so he wouldn’t be called a hypocrite when he criticized Tom Clancy for not fighting in Vietnam? Oh wait, shit, sorry, I’m too much of an idiot to research and realize he wasn’t old enough to fight in Vietnam himself. Doyee! Oh well. That’s what happens when neocon libertarians like myself try thinking up something smart.

  • 38. Bester  |  November 23rd, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Brecher, when are you writing about North/South Korea conflicts? Can you tell us if there’s gonna be a war eventually?

  • 39. Bolan  |  November 25th, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Why is Dolan not talking to anonymous idiots like me on these comment pages? Lame, isn’t it?

  • 40. Dejo  |  November 28th, 2010 at 4:38 am

    In response to… myself? If he wasn’t old enough then why did he make a persona?


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