Response: Re: Reassigned PCV

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Morocco: Peace Corps Morocco : The Peace Corps in Morocco: February 13, 2006: Headlines: COS - Morocco: Protest: Speaking Out: Ashland Daily Tidings: Derek Volkart takes out his anger through helping others in Morocco : Response: Re: Reassigned PCV
Invitee re-assigned after inflammatory remarks Date: March 21 2006 No: 839 Invitee re-assigned after inflammatory remarks
The Peace Corps has pulled the invitation to Derek Volkart to join the Morocco Training Program and offered him a position in the Pacific instead after officials read an article in which he stated that his decision to join the Peace Corps was in "response to our current fascist government." RPCV Lew Nash says that "If Derek Volkart spoke his mind as freely in Morocco about the Moroccan monarchy it could cause major problems for himself and other Peace Corps volunteers." Latest: Volkart reverses stance, takes new assignment in Paraguay.

By Mgoazul 007 ( - on Monday, March 13, 2006 - 10:46 am: Edit Post

I do not know the fellow, to be fair. I also , as a lawyer, would defend his rights to freedom of expression and speech. However, I would possibly NOT allow him to serve anywhere. The Peace Corps is a service that has 3 primary goals: share our CULTURE, learn the culture of others, and help those in other nations less fortunate than we are here in the USA. It is NOT, in my humble opinion, a "political soapbox" for those who- rightly or wrongly- want to publicly critcize our government or that of another nation that we serve in.

By steve kallaugher ( on Monday, March 13, 2006 - 10:53 am: Edit Post

I think he ought to get a dictionary and learn the definition of fascism, and maybe even read some history about truly fascist states. Better yet: Since he's headed to the Pacific, why not send him to the absolute monarchy of Tonga to get a taste of what true totalitarianism is?

By Khotso ( - on Monday, March 13, 2006 - 12:46 pm: Edit Post

OK, I took the suggestion and ordered the defintions from broad to narrow explanations below. Particularly interesting is the 7 warning signs of fascism. I think opinion and free expression much depends upon what one believes has occurred in the US since Reagan's Presidency and in the time since the Florida election results of 2000. There should also be the phenomenon of religious fascism added to the modern explanations. It seems a mutating form open to opinion and position.

From Couples Company:
general characteristics of a fascist country:

1. Fascism is commonly defined as an open terror-based dictatorship which is:

Reactionary: makes policy based upon current circumstances rather than creating policies to prevent problems; piles lies and misnomers on top of more lies until the truth becomes indistinguishable, revised or forgotten.
Chauvinistic: Two or more tiered legal systems, varying rights based upon superficial characteristics such as race, creed and origin.
Imperialist elements of finance capital: Extending a nation's authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political domination of one state over its allies.

Though a dictatorship is the most common association with fascism, a democracy or republic can also be fascist when it strays away from its Tenets of sovereignty. In the 20th Century, many Fascist countries started out as republics. Through the use of fear, societies gave up their rights under the guise of security. Ultimately these republics morphed into Fascist states.

2. Fascism is an extreme measure taken by the middle classes to forestall lower-working class revolution; it thrives on the weakness of the middle classes. It accomplishes this by embracing the middle-class' love of the status-quo, its complacency and its fears of: TOP

Generating a united struggle within the working class


Losing its own power and position within society

In a more simplistic term the people currently in control fear that if they allow equal rights and equal consideration to those being oppressed, they will become oppressed and lose everything. Generally those in power are of a smaller segment of society, but they hold the wealth and control of key systems like manufacturing, law, finance and government position, (i.e. the slave owners in the south prior to the civil war) and the oppressed vastly outnumber them, (the slaves during the same period).

In reality it is the oppressors' fear of retribution by the oppressed that perpetuates fascism; for justification they dehumanize, demonize, strip them of rights, add new laws, restrict movement and attempt to control them by whatever means possible to prevent an uprising. It is very common in a fascist system to have the oppressed referred to as sub-human, animals, terrorists, savages, barbarians, vermin or any other term designed to create justification for the acts of terror and fascism perpetrated on the oppressed. Via dehumanization society can then accept that the oppressed are incapable of thinking or acting in a peaceful manner or taking care of themselves, and thus society is exonerated from culpability in their own minds. Propaganda, not persuasion, logic or law, is the tool of fascism, though at times very difficult to spot. It specifically rides the fact that negative behavior is innate, (born with) rather than a logical behavior in response to oppression. Propaganda also empowers the oppressors with elitism racially, socially, intellectually and/or spiritually.

The 7 conditions (Warning signs)
that foster & fuel fascism are:

Instability of capitalist relationships or markets

The existence of considerable declassed social elements

The stripping of rights and wealth focused upon a specific segment of the population, specifically the middle class and intellectuals within urban areas as this the group with the means, intelligence and ability to stop fascism if given the opportunity.

Discontent among the rural lower middle class (clerks, secretaries, white collar labor). Consistent discontent among the general middle and lower middle classes against the oppressing upper-classes (haves vs have-nots).

Hate: Pronounced, perpetuated and accepted public disdain of a specific group defined by race, origin, theology or association.

Greed: The motivator of fascism, which is generally associated with land, space or scarce resources in the possession of those being oppressed.

Organized Propaganda:

a) The creation of social mythology that venerates (creates saints of) one element of society while concurrently vilifying (dehumanizing) another element of the population through misinformation, misdirection and the obscuring of factual matter through removal, destruction or social humiliation, (name-calling, false accusations, belittling and threats).

b) The squelching of public debate not agreeing with the popular agenda via slander, libel, threats, theft, destruction, historical revisionism and social humiliation. Journalists in particular are terrorized if they attempt to publish stories contrary to the agenda.

3. Fascism dovetails business & government sectors into a single economic unit, while concurrently increasing in-fighting and distrust between the units fostering advancement towards war. TOP

4. a) Fascism promotes chauvinist demagogy, (appealing to the prejudices and emotions of the populace) by fostering selective persecution and accepted public vilification of the target group. It then promotes this a "patriotic", "supportive" or "the party line" and disagreement with such as "anti-government", "anti-faith" or "anti-nation".

b) Fascism creates confusion through "facts". It relies on junk science, revisionism, the elimination of cultural records/treasures and obfuscations to create its case and gain acceptance. Fascism can also combine Marxist critiques of capitalism or faith based critics of the same to re-define middle class perceptions of democracy and to force its issues, confuse logic and create majority consensus between targeted groups. This is also referred to as creating a state of Cognitive Dissonance, the mental state human beings are most easily manipulated. TOP

5. Both middle and upper-middle-class dictated democracy and fascism are class dictatorships that use organized violence (verbal or physical) to maintain the class rule of the oppressors over the oppressed.

The difference between the two is demonstrated by the policies towards non-lower-working class classes. Fascism attains power through the substitution of one state's form of class domination with another form, generally a middle class based republic segues into an open terrorist dictatorship, run by a few elite.

From Merriam-Webster:
Etymology: Italian fascismo, from fascio bundle, fasces, group, from Latin fascis bundle & fasces fasces
1 often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

A philosophy or system of government that is marked by stringent social and economic control, a strong, centralized government usually headed by a dictator, and often a policy of belligerent nationalism." (From The American Heritage Dictionary)

Fascism is also typified by totalitarian attempts to impose state control over all aspects of life: political, social, cultural, and economic. The fascist state regulates and controls (as opposed to nationalizing) the means of production. Fascism exalts the nation, state, or race as superior to the individuals, institutions, or groups composing it. Fascism uses explicit populist rhetoric; calls for a heroic mass effort to restore past greatness; and demands loyalty to a single leader, often to the point of a cult of personality. (From Wikipedia)

By desertdune ( - on Monday, March 13, 2006 - 1:13 pm: Edit Post

Why is this person being offered a position at all? He has clearly stated his motivation as "his desire to appease political frustration and to grow both personally and professionally"---these have nothing to do with the three tenets of Peace Corps. God, or Allah, or Buddah, help the South Pacific! Sounds like a loose cannon to me.

By Barbara Burch ( - on Monday, March 13, 2006 - 3:16 pm: Edit Post

For those of us who have served as PCVs, the reasons that we chose to serve are as varied as the numbers who have served. I don't know whether responder desertdune served or what his/her motives were for serving. But to say that Mr. Volkart's stated motives "have nothing to do with the three goals of Peace Corps" requires a far too narrowly subscribed interpretation of those goals:
1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their needs for trained men and women.
2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of all Americans. (Note to Mgoazul: where on earth did you get your 3rd goal, that of "help[ing] those in other nations less fortunate than we are here in the USA." That is not a stated goal of PC!)

Mr. Volkart's only error in judgment, as I see it, is that he chose the PC application process to vent his frustrations at the current state of political affairs here in the U.S. He might have served himself better had he written a letter to his congressperson or his senator or a letter to the editor of his local rag or NYT or Washington Post. Please do not misunderstand me here: unlike the rest of the respondents, I am not faulting Mr. Volkart’s feelings and beliefs, nor do I think that Peace Corps was justified in reassigning Mr. Volkart. Alas, Peace Corps as a governmental agency and headed by a political appointee has become as politicized as the visible federal agencies, notably, the Interior, Justice, Homeland Security, Defense and State Departments.

I made the decision to become a PCV after the 9/11 attacks; my motive was to demonstrate, in person, to citizens of another country what Americans are like. When the president declared war on another sovereign nation 3 years ago this month, I was serving in Kenya. I was asked by many of the local villagers why the U.S. would do such a thing. "Do you think the U.S. will ever attack Kenya?" they asked me. I saw the anti-American slogans painted on walls; kids tauntingly called me “Osama.”

In my judgment, Peace Corps erred when it decided to reassign Mr. Volkart. Read the article about Mr. Volkart. It states, "Although Morocco is a U.S. ally, more than 200,000 people gathered for an anti-Iraq war protest there." Millions of people around the world have marched to protest the Iraq war; millions of people are against current administration policies and practices and are angry with the U.S. for its hubristic aggression. The harm that’s been done to this nation’s reputation around the world has been done by the current administration; I daresay that there is little that Mr. Volkart could ever say or do that would harm its reputation further.

To Mr. Kallaugher: How does Mr. Volkart’s voicing dissent against current administration policies disqualify him from serving as a Volunteer? The only way Peace Corps admin. can prevent PCVs from voicing dissent against their government’s policies while serving abroad would be to shut down the Corps. That or require PCVs and potential PCVs to abandon their rights of freedom of speech, religion, press, expression, assembly, etc. Instead of exhorting us to “get a dictionary and learn the definition of fascism” perhaps Mr. Kallaugher’s time would be better spent studying the U.S. Bill of Rights.

By zabouti ( - on Monday, March 13, 2006 - 5:55 pm: Edit Post

First, as an RPCV, Tunisia, 1964-66 & 1971-72, I want to contratulate the Peace Corps itself for allowing Mr. Volkart to remain in the Peace Corps rather than simply denying him the opportunity to serve. When I was in Peace Corps training a volunteer was rejected ostensibly because of his attitude towards authority (and the trainers were very objectionable in some ways).

Secondly, I believe that Mr. Volkart does indeed represent a significant part of our culture (as far as I can tell from the article, he seems to represent mine pretty well). While it's certainly possible that the government of Morocco might not like his views, I imagine that he would bring hope to many of its citizens.

Third, to Mr. Kallaugher, I'm told that there are congressman who compare the current situation in Washington to Nazi Germany. It's not just left-wingers and kooks who find some very troubling signs of fascism in our country. (Believe it or not, I'm not particularly left-wing or kooky :-).

Fourth, although Habib Bourguiba was indeed a dictator of sorts, especially in his later years, I believe that he did things that a democracy could never have have done for Tunisia, particularly in the areas of education and women's rights. It's very possible that Mr. Volkart would indeed have found something to praise in Morocco's government.

By Ksar es-Souq ( - on Monday, March 13, 2006 - 10:04 pm: Edit Post

Mr. Volkart must realize that, as a Peace Corps volunteer, he is part of the U.S. foreign policy establishment. If that does not suit his character, there are hundreds of private NGOs or religious orders that he could join to perform his service. As a country, we do not need someone stumbling around with a big mouth. Outright denunciation of his own government would mystify Moroccans, though many may agree with him. Also, insulting the King is still a serious crime in Morocco, and it is compounded when an outsider does the criticism. We're just getting over the Danish cartoons incident. We don't need Peace Corps volunteers adding to the din. Especially at this time in Morocco which is one of the bright spots in the Islamic world. The current King seems to be making a sincere effort to improve the political life in the country. When I served there as a Peace Corps volunteer in the late '70's, it was a different country under Hassan II. But it was their country and we had to respect that. We were there to help improve lives at a personal level, not to change the political landscape. Those rules still apply. The Peace Corps is the last organization that should get into the "we know best" business. Isn't that what is getting us into trouble a bit further east? Mr. Volkart's remarks smack of that type of American attitude. The Moroccans are doing fine sorting things out for themselves under very trying circumstances. The last thing they need is a foreign rabble rouser. They get enough of them coming in from the east - they don't need more of same with a different orientation coming in from the west.

By Bill Dain ( - on Monday, March 13, 2006 - 11:32 pm: Edit Post

I think he has the making of a great volunteer. He is couragaeous and willing to speak his mind. I am appalled that the Peace Corps is refusing to send him. How about meeting with him to discuss what it is like to a be a guest in another country and to see what he says aboit that.
Criticizing the US president should not ipso facto be a reason for disqualification. In the current climete, it is probably an important qualifying reason.

By 1st Ammend ( - on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 10:36 pm: Edit Post

Vasquez is for fascism isn't he? He is spealching free speech.

By Fight the Power ( - on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 10:50 pm: Edit Post


He is helping spread diversity of ideas my friend. Hello?

Part of American Culture is debate about politics freely? Hello?

Good for you Derek, Stir it up, You sure reached Vasquez and his hench people at Peace Corps. I think you should send him to where Chris Shay's served. Fiji Islands sounds good for a guy who has accomplished,one thing, us debating about it.

There is an American accomplishment.

By Star Miller ( on Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - 11:48 pm: Edit Post

What country will he be serving in down in the South Pacific?

By CuriousD ( on Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - 4:22 pm: Edit Post

Mr. Volkart criticized the U.S. government on U.S. soil prior to departing for staging and pre-service training. He violated no PC policy. Mr. Volkart did not criticize the government of Morocco. Does expressing one’s political opinion in the U.S. make one a “loose cannon”?

One definition of fascism is “a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.”

Mr. Volkart’s “motivation to serve” should be captured in his essays and aspiration statements. Does the newspaper’s quoting of him summarize his intent? Interviewing with a local newspaper and expressing one’s political opinion while simultaneously preparing for departure for PC service does not mean one is utilizing the “application process to vent his frustrations”.

Peace Corps’ rescission of the invitation for Mr. Volkart to serve in Morocco is an action that seems more representative of “we know best”. By removing someone who has not violated any law or policy, PC’s action smacks of a “manufacture of consent” – that is – “you are either with us or against us”. If Mr. Volkart is capable of representing the U.S. in Fiji, he should be capable of representing the U.S. in Morocco – in fact, he was deemed capable until he freely expressed his political opinion.

Mr. Volkart will not be serving in the Pacific Islands. He will utilize his B.S. in Forestry, his decade of experience working with U.S. federal land management agencies and his study in International Conservation and Development for an Agroforestry assignment in the CSA.

By Former PCV, current service member ( - on Sunday, March 19, 2006 - 8:22 am: Edit Post

Would someone please remind Mr. Volkart that he is working for the Federal Government of the United States of America while a Peace Corps Volunteer. He shouldn't be allowed to work at any Peace Corps poast with such distain for the hand that feeds him. Some of my Peace Corps colleagues have kindly defined to him what fascism means, but the good that surely may come from his experience may be an appreciation of the freedoms that have cost so much for so many in our own country, when he finds that he is in absence from them in Morocco. From his comments, though, he will in all likelyhood blind himself to that valuable lesson and leave his post more lost than when he arrived. It saddens me that he so flippantly criticizes our government having never experienced the absence of freedom or the great pain of having to defend it.

By Sinclair Lewis ( on Monday, March 20, 2006 - 4:21 pm: Edit Post

"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."

By Mark Twain ( on Monday, March 20, 2006 - 4:19 pm: Edit Post

"Loyalty to the country always, loyalty to the government when it deserves it."

By Justice ( - on Friday, March 24, 2006 - 1:21 am: Edit Post

There used to be a bylaw in Peace Corps about political affiliation or is Vasquez holding volunteers to a litmus test?

One of the best patriots is the person with the guts to speak what others are afraid to. He spoke out and I am glad he did because their are people who believe our so called leader orders killing unjustly.

By lightstays ( - on Friday, March 24, 2006 - 5:33 pm: Edit Post

Aside from a loose usage of the word "facsism" what did Volkart do wrong?

Oh, that's right, he forgot that as a PCV you tacitly agree to a revocation, however slight, of your inalienable rights. People, make no mistake about it, when you swear-in you DO NOT enjoy your First Amendment rights to freedom of speech even they are protected by your host country's laws. That should bother ANY American.

It's one of the many reasons I ETed and the one of the many reasons the PC loses many extremely qualified and mature trainees, volunteers, and would-be applicants.

If Vasquez or any future Director keeps up this muzzling they just might succeed in screening for a development agency, nay, an international friendship society, of freakishly politically neutral future bureaucrats.

By desertdune ( - on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 11:23 am: Edit Post

I didn't have a problem with Derek expressing his opinion, but part of being a PCV is knowing when and where to express such opinions. I served an extended tour, created a Women In Development programme where none existed and reformed in service training for my sector. So I've seen things from the PCV side and the admin side, a bit.

I'm amazed at what events have transpired---PC making THREE offers and Derek turning them down until an explanation was provided. Gutsy on his part. Surprising on PC part. I look forward to learning how his service progresses, as I suspect we'll be hearing about him again.

By Charlene C. Duline ( - on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 11:39 am: Edit Post

Peace Corps officials will live to rue the day they let Volkart remain in the service. He should have been left at home where he can shout his disdain for our government from the rooftops. But we do not do that in other countries. He should get on his soapbox in his backyard and bow out of the PC. After all, PC is still a part of the U.S. government, as he must have known when he signed up. As a RPCV (Peru - 1962-64), I shuddered when I read that Volkart had been reassigned! Why?? He will NOT make us proud. With this sort of baggage accompanying him, I think we'll soon hear complaints from him about the people he will be working with. ATTN: PEACE CORPS HEADQUARTERS - are we so desperate for volunteers as to get on bended knee to appease this loose mouth??!

By Fact Checker ( on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 11:43 am: Edit Post

Don't forget - Mr. Volkart had not sworn in yet. He had not even left for PST. If one is required to tacitly agree to a revocation of one's Constitutional rights prior to swearing in, when does that period begin? Additionally, I note that a requirement for this revocation is not included in the oath of office nor in PC policy regarding expression.

It is truly amazing that a future volunteer's expression of a political viewpoint in the U.S. draws so much uneducated condemnation and labels like "loose cannon." Perhaps Peace Corps' decision to retain Mr. Volkart is based on his qualifications as a candidate and a realization that no policy had been violated.

By Pat Smith ( - on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 12:22 pm: Edit Post

Gee, sure seems that the vocal majority of rpcvs want to forever remain that way, vocal in an anti-establishmentarian sense; even if it is anti-Peace Corps or anti-US. The few voices which disagree with Mr. Volkart's political statements seem to have some other priorities in criticizing Mr. Volkart's statements, such priorities include a minimization of politicization of the Peace Corps and some effort to present through Peace Corps good will a more positive image than negative political statements by future PCVs/ and vocal RPCVs. The dual service PCV/active duty military member who has seen both sides may indeed have a better appreciation of the difficulties and complexities by virtue of his/her combined service experiences. Something for the righteous civil libertarians to think about. Pat Smith, RPCV Mali/ former US Navy diver.

By Anonymous ( - on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 8:58 pm: Edit Post

In my day, they called someone like this kid a "high risk, high gain." I was one myself, and flattered by the appellation. Essentially, it meant you'd either bring down the program in which you served, or turn out to be an exceptional volunteer. I think Volkart will do just fine, or, in the best tradition of our kind, do superbly well.

By Rebekah Robertson ( - on Thursday, March 30, 2006 - 11:31 am: Edit Post

As I learned through my Peace Corps experience, Peace Corps volunteers must be good little robots for the US government. You should practically have a lobotomy. It is important to not have an opinion, unless it is one that supports the US government. And forget about speaking out if you feel you are not properly supported by your in-country program staff--that would only suceed in getting you shipped back to the US.

Derek should be careful because the PC staff have likely red flagged him already and if he does anything at all questionable, they'll be ready to kick him out of the program.

By Anonymous ( - on Friday, March 31, 2006 - 10:13 am: Edit Post

A culture of fear created by our president has made its way to Peace Corps Morocco, just ask any volunteer currently serving there. Derek was not in Morocco yet, and as any PCV knows, the way you carry yourself in your community is often different than how you carry yourself in the States. He should have been given an opportunity to train. I think this is a disgrace.

By Daniel ( - on Friday, March 31, 2006 - 7:20 am: Edit Post


You are right. Especially in the in country staff. Look at what they have done in terms of safety and security. Wow! They have never taken responsibility.

Derek, stay away from the staff and get into your work. They will make anything up to separate you.

By MajorOz ( - on Wednesday, May 03, 2006 - 11:32 pm: Edit Post

Great fodder for examination. The poor loudmouth can choose to speak his mind anywhere he wishes, unless he is being paid, trained, and supported by someone who says: "don't".
You take my coin, you do what I say. If you don't like it, you can choose not to take my coin.
The only mistake PC made is not dumping him altogether.


oz, RPCV, Micro-61

By Tin Man ( - on Friday, May 05, 2006 - 6:00 pm: Edit Post

We should manufacture consent....yeah, good point Oz. Freedom of speech is only good when the government says so. Love that intellectual let us all click our heels other place like home...the home of the imperial brave, land of the free when the government says so. You better get back to shopping for the troops.

By MajorOz ( - on Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - 12:34 am: Edit Post

We may have something to discuss, Tin Man, but I don't understand a word you are saying. Perhaps I have been out of the pop culture too long to understand the jargon.

cheers (anyway)


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