Monday, February 12, 2007

Violating Academic Freedom Via Visa

Jonathan Knight of the AAUP has an excellent op-ed about how the Bush Administration is attacking academic freedom by denying visas. It costs taxpayers substantial amounts of money to violate the freedom of scholars in this way; we could save a lot of money by recognizing that these scholars pose no threat at all. The investigations against them, as with Ramadan, consist solely of inquiring into their beliefs, not of any possibility of any physical threat.

It should also be noted that the Bush Administration's campaign seems to exclusively target left-of-center scholars, and this exclusion via visa represents some of the worst attacks on academic freedom in American colleges. After all, the rare case of a speaker being banned from a campus (typically at religious colleges) or a professor being fired by one college cannot compare in severity to all colleges in the country being banned by the government from hearing a particular scholar.

Finally, a short correction to Knight's otherwise excellent article. It must be pointed out that the Palestinian charity to which Ramadan donated money is not designated as a terrorist group in France, and also was not designated as a terrorist group by the United States at the time of the donation. The notion that you can be held responsible for any future designations of a group you previously donated to is absurd. It is also troubling that the US designation of terrorist groups is done with remarkably little evidence, oversight, or appeal.

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