Martin Orzeck woke from uneasy dreams to find he was under investigation by the Secret Service. The disgruntled English professor telephoned the White House last Monday night to complain about the economy, lost his temper with the switchboard operator and called President Bush a "Nazi racist." But when he opened his door at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday and saw two uniformed policemen and two plain-clothes officers, he did not connect their arrival with his phone call. He only began to understand when one of the plainclothesmen flashed a badge, identified himself as a Secret Service officer and said, "Tell me, Martin, did you make a phone call threatening George Bush last night?" "We had a report earlier this evening that you called the White House threatening President Bush," the officer continued. "And we take these reports very seriously." Orzeck, who describes himself as "not a political person" and "a patriotic American," said he was astonished and angry by the officers' appearance on his doorstep. "Are you going to arrest me?" he asked. "Can you arrest me?" "Well, we can arrest you," answered one of the uniformed officers. "Either arrest me or get out," Orzeck retorted. "Get out, now." According to Orzeck, the policemen departed without questioning him further, and he was left wondering about the government's response to what he said was an innocuous and Constitutional protest. Orzeck, whose appointment as a visiting professor will end in June, said he got depressed after an evening of filling out job applications. So he decided to call the White House's public line to register a complaint about contradiction between Bush's claim to be the "education president" and his lack of financial support for education. He drank a few beers, watched the news, and placed his call. When the switchboard operator told him to call back during business hours and hung up without letting him leave a message, Orzeck said he got upset. He called two more times. When the operator asked exactly who he was trying to reach, he vented his frustration against the President. "I simply want to talk to my elected representative in Washington," he said. "You know who I mean -- that Nazi racist, George Bush." The operator took his name and number, and four hours later, the Secret Service knocked on his door. Orzeck said the government's rapid response was out of proportion to the actual danger his call presented, and it reflects a bunker mentality on the part of the administration. But according to Secret Service spokesperson Mark Ruppert, it is standard procedure to follow up on calls that might be considered threatening. He added that White House operators use their discretion in deciding when to alert the Secret Service about callers. According to an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Orzeck is still under investigation. The 40-year-old professor said he is an unlikely candidate for harming the President. He has sent protest telegrams to the White House twice before and he is a registered Democrat, but the suggestion that he would inflict physical damage on someone, especially the President, made him laugh. "They can investigate until the cows come home, but they are not going to find anything but a rather dull academic who writes articles on Emily Dickinson and Edgar Poe," he said. Orzeck's protest has received publicity in the local and national media, and so far, he does not seem upset by the attention. He said he would like to find out exactly what he is being investigated for, but he has no other plans for following up on the incident. But the phone call may have repercussions on Orzeck's search for a job. English Department Undergraduate Chairperson Alice Kelley said she was worried about the ramifications of his actions. "I don't think it's going to do him any good," Kelley said. "I think it's kind of a shame because he's somebody who deserves a break. If it gets in his way, I'd be very sad."Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.