Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Doris Lessing, Tariq Ramadan, and ideological exclusion

My friend Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU's National Security Project, has an excellent letter to the editor in today's NY Times, in which he notes that the U.S. government refused to issue a visa to Nobel Prize-winner Doris Lessing after she joined the Communist Party, and didn't allow her to visit the country until 1969. He links this dubious historical practice with the current ideological exclusion of foreign scholars based solely on their political views, including Tariq Ramadan. Let us not forget Nalini Ghuman (right), a foreign scholar who hasn't even been informed of the grounds for her exclusion, about whom I have blogged here. In Jaffer's words:

[Ideological exclusion is] a shameful practice that doesn’t befit a democracy. It put the United States in dubious company during the cold war, as Ms. Lessing’s case shows, and it does the same today.

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