Not A US Citizen? Critical Of US Policy? You Can’t Come Here!

Kevin Gosztola of FDL’s The Dissenter lists (explicitly or by reference) several dozen scholars, officials, artists and activists refused visa admission to the US by the Bush and Obama administrations and thus prevented from addressing conferences or other academic events in America. Many of those denied entry had been to the US many times before. In more than a few cases, the State Department refused to specify just what caused the individual to be denied admission. But the cause is obvious even if it is not specified:

Whatever the Obama State Department might say, the denials are all ordered for similar reasons. The people wanting visas to enter the United States are critical of US policy and so they are denied entry. The ACLU calls this “ideological exclusion.” It is essentially “blacklisting.” Graham Greene, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Dario Fo, Pablo Neruda, Carlos Fuentes, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and former NATO Deputy Supreme Commander Nino Pasti were all at one point excluded for their writing, plays or outspokenness against US government policies.

“Ideological exclusion” … it’s the new Red-baiting.

You know, if the US manages to blacklist enough foreign scholars, dignitaries, officials, artists and activists by calling them “terrorists” (or for no expressed reason at all), those people will quit bothering to come to the US. Whether this is their loss and our protection, or a tragic loss of American opportunity to interact with important people from other nations, apparently depends on whether you’re a paranoid Bush- or Obama-administration official trying to cover up every bit of criticism leveled at your administration by anyone, anywhere, or an ordinary American citizen seeking a broad exposure to critical thought from all viewpoints and all nations.

If America rejects enough people who come here for purposes both useful and benign, she can achieve her right-wing nut-jobs’ most passionately desired dream: an American intellectual inbreeding, the offspring of which will inevitably eventually be as dumb as ditchwater.

Welcome to the new American isolationism: it includes people “from sea to shining sea,” but not one inch beyond America’s shores. Does anyone else remember that we’ve tried this course before?

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  • Shaun Downey  On Wednesday April 11, 2012 at 8:59 am

    We have exclusio orders in the UK. For example David Dukes ha been banned from entering the country at least since I started as an Imigration officer bck in late 1985. Others excluded include the leaders of the Westboro Baptist Church and other nasty characters (L Ron Hubbard was banned too as was Louis Farrakhan.

    But sometimes the exclusion orders are perverse. Timothy eary was banned in the 60s and the ban remained until his death, long after he was any kind of “thret” to our youth. Nasty as Michael Svage is perhaps his exclusionn was a tad harsh

    • Steve  On Wednesday April 11, 2012 at 10:01 am

      Shaun, the US, in theory, has a different view from the UK: unpleasant people with views far from the consensus have the same free-speech rights as everyone else. The courts ruled that even Fred Phelps (the Westboro guy) has a right to do his protests, as long as he is far enough away to avoid disrupting the funeral services. (I agree he is a shit… we don’t jail people just for being shits; even with the new prison-building boom, there isn’t the jail space. 🙂 )

      So refusing people entry to the US effectively because their speech is critical of the US is something new for us… again, at least in theory. If someone committed a felony the last time they were here, that’s one thing: keep them out, with my blessing. But if they merely advocated changes to US policy, that comes perilously close to what I do every day… and I have no intention of being forced to leave.

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