The Bush administration made a lot of bone-headed decisions regarding U.S. relations with the world Muslim community. The decision to bar Tariq Ramadan entry to the U.S. to teach a course of interfaith dialogue at Notre Dame, was one of the worst (though certainly not THE worst). So it comes as a great shock to read Aziz Poonawalla’s blog today in which he notes that the Obama administration seems willing to tread the same path continuing to argue Ramadan is a figure too dangerous for Americans to know.
In legal proceedings, the Justice Department argues that no court should overturn a consular decision like the one to deny Ramadan entry. Why, for heaven’s sake, do Justice and State continue down the same barren road traveled by the Bushites? Why not just dump the entire farce and say the man is welcome here to teach, preach, whatever?? What possible danger can he pose?
The Obama administration’s position came as a shock to many.
“It’s disappointing to come here and hear Obama administration lawyers argue the same sweeping executive power arguments,” Jameel Jaffer, lawyer and ACLU National Security Project director, said after the hearing.
He told the court that the government had failed to identify “legitimate and bona fide reasons for the exclusion.”
Civil rights groups had hoped for a reversal of Bush policy of excluding foreign scholars from on the basis of their political beliefs.
…”While the government has an interest in excluding people who present a threat to the country, it doesn’t have any legitimate interest in excluding foreign nationals simply because of their political views. The Bush administration was wrong to revive this Cold War practice, and the Obama administration should not defend it,” Jaffer insisted.
“There should be a clean break of the Bush administration national security policies.”
…“US citizens and US resident are harmed by…the exclusion of people based on the content of their speech.”
You’ll recall Bushites first argued Ramandan supported terror. When that argument didn’t fly they argued he’s donated to charity which later was found to have supported Hamas, even though at the time of his donation neither Hamas nor the charity were on any federally proscribed list.
C’mon guys, let’s get out from under Bush’s inanities and do the right thing. As Aziz points out, our president intends to travel to Egypt shortly and make a major address to the Muslim world about our nation’s willingness to reach out a hand in, if not friendship, at least tolerance of Arab and Muslim peoples. Does he want this stain to tarnish the otherwise laudable goals of his address?
If the Iranians can release Roxanne Saberi from prison in order to further the possibility for dialogue with the U.S. can’t we do the same and give Tariq Ramadan and the American people the gift of being able to hear his ideas directly on our own soil? If we are frightened of Ramadan then how can we look the world’s Muslims in the eye and say we aren’t frightened of them as well?
Hey, the Amerian Jewish Committee has a strong program dealing with interfaith dialogue. If they believe in dialogue with Muslims as well you’d think they might make a statement even marginally supportive of Ramadan. Silence is deafening.
It’s my understanding (correct me if I’m wrong) that entry to a country by non-citizens is not an enforceable right. So Assistant US Attorney David Jones would be correct insisting that consular decisions are not subject to litigation and to ask the court to uphold the ban by default – not on the merits (that would be self-contradictory) but because of lack of jurisdiction.
The fact that the Bush administration abused their executive power to such a degree doesn’t mean there’s now no executive, non-litigable power left at all.
That said, I fully agree the ban is stupid and should be lifted. IOW, I do hope Obama/Clinton are not actually upholding the ban, but at this time merely asserting their right to do so.
It’s rather bizarre the British Home Office is now following in Bush’s footsteps by banning people for their objectionable views: http://www.alternet.org/mediaculture/139826/right-wing_shock_jock_michael_savage_banned_from_the_uk_for_extremist_views