The Freedom To Write

He may be the “muslim Martin Luther” but author and activist Tariq Ramadan has been the object of controversy in the post 9-11 climate. In 2004, his visa was revoked by the department of homeland security because of the fear that he would use his

“position of prominence…to endorse or espouse terrorist activity.”

Despite all the suspicion, most evidence pointed to Ramadan being a scholar, not a terrorist. Furthermore, Ramadan is a Swiss citizen, and taught all over Europe, including at Oxford, with no mishaps or accidental bombings. So why the stall on the visa? Obviously, the feds didn’t enjoy Ramadan’s vocal criticism of the war against terrorism.

Recently, however, federal Judge Paul A. Crotty ordered the government to stop stalling on Ramadan’s visa for teaching at the University of Notre Dame. I went to school with Judge Crotty’s daughter and vaguely remember hearing him speak at a conference, but my respect for him doubled with this decision, but he is clearly not immune from the dreaded Legalese Virus.

Allowing the government to wait for ‘possible future discovery of statementsÂ’ would mean that the government could delay final adjudication indefinitely, evading constitutional review by its own failure to render a decision on RamadanÂ’s application. The Court will not allow this…

crikey. basically, the decision also slaps the knuckles of the DHS for assuming that there would be no judicial review of the visa denial. translate, if you will:

While the Executive may exclude an alien for almost any reason, it cannot do so solely because the Executive disagrees with the content of the alienÂ’s speech and therefore wants to prevent the alien from sharing this speech with a willing American audience.

Take that, Patriot Act! And Professor–welcome to Indiana. Enjoy the football.

More about the decision can be read at PEN American Center, an organization which works to preserve the freedom to write and be read all over the world. For the hardy, here is Judge Crotty’s full decision in its technical, DHS-bashing splendor.

130 thoughts on “The Freedom To Write

  1. MoorNam,

    AlMfD’s point in post #98 is spot on.

    Also, you contradict your recent statement…..

    Of course!! I was not trying to say that they are Hindus. I was trying to say that they are a branch of Sanatana Dharma, and the end goals are the same (Brahman via re-birth) but the methods are different.

    …..with your earlier statement on this thread, as follows:

    Sikhs nowadays claim that they are not Hindus because they don’t believe in Vedas, idols, mantras etc etc. But many Hindus think that since their final destination is still Brahman (same as Hindus/Jains/Buddhist), they are similiar even though their methods are different. The mutual respect between the different paths of Dharma is rooted in this concept…..So if Guru Tegh Bahadur saves Pandits, it’s as though a Hindu/Jain king saved them.

    Also:

    Is any of this wrong? Haven’t the writings of Sikh gurus attested to this?

    Yes it is wrong and no the writings of the Sikh Gurus did not attest to this. You can “re-brand” Hinduism as much as you like by using the term “Sanatana Dharma” — and I have noticed that you are using the two terms interchangeably, and altering the definition according to the context of your argument at that point in time — but the Gurus stated unequivocally that their “path” was not a branch of any organised religion, whether Hinduism/Sanatana Dharma, Islam, or anything else. I refuse to get drawn into this argument on this blog yet again — especially as this is not the right thread for it, as I repeatedly stated before. It is also worth bearing in mind that the Gurus used multiple names for God, including traditionally Islamic names such as Allah, Khudha and so on. This does not mean Sikhism is a branch of Islam either, even though there is some overlap with Sufism along with Sufi concepts such as achieving “fanaa” via direct experience of God. Unless you believe that Allah/Khudha/Jehovah/etc are exactly the same spiritual entity as “Brahman” (indeed, the same entity who hears all prayers and holds ultimate power and authority in the universe — and beyond it), then you still have not correctly understood Sikh teachings in this regard. You should also consider whether the nature & “personality” of “Brahman” as per your interpretation of your religion is the same as that defined in Sikhism. If not, then your argument about Sikhism being a “branch” of said “Dharma” is further undermined.

    but the methods are different

    Actually, no. According to Sikh teachings, there is only one core “method” to achieve liberation, regardless of one’s formal religious affiliation (if any) and the outer rituals one may or may not practice.

    I have also noticed that you have conveniently ignored the rest of the contents of my post #93, in which the teachings and “affiliation” of Sikhism were certainly not the core focus of what I said. Or is this yet another attempt by you to divert attention away from the main issues by sidetracking the conversation ?

    I have a great deal of respect for most posters on SM (including you and Sid), otherwise I would not be here.

    In which case, you should exercise significantly greater consideration and sensitivity towards everyone here, with regards to what you say, how you say it, and to whom you say it. Being deliberately “blunt”, “inflammatory”, and “provocative” is not evidence of your claims of “respect” — the opposite, in fact. Your actions — and a number of your ideas — contradict this claim.

    I still stand by the contents of my main post #93; an academic knowledge of religious theories is worthless unless you simultaneously exercise a significantly greater degree of compassion and general “humanity” towards your fellow man (and stop finding excuses to withhold empathy towards people who, in many cases, certainly do not deserve such a ruthlessly cold-hearted stance on alleged “points of principle” or “moral/ethical grounds”, especially if it involves finding logical loopholes to blame the other party for your own unsympathetic reaction/attitude towards them).

    If you do not understand — and practice — this basic principle, then all of your grand statements about spirituality, the divine, religious “paths and goals”, and indeed “Brahman”, are just empty words.

  2. What you said, Manju:

    But if you believe our failure to embrace progressive policies itself constitutes homophobia…well I can see how thatÂ’s a very convenient premise for you.

    What I said:

    My point was that this indirectly harms people who ARE LGBT (LGBT and poor, LGBT and women, LGBT and Black, LGBT and immigrants, etc.), not LGBT rights. In fact the whole point is that LGBT “rights” and women’s “rights” and Black people’s “rights” are selectively used and promoted in order to undermine other peoples.
    Obviously, there are conservative LGBT groups that participate in this–usually, you can find a segment of a minority group that’s willing to align themselves with the powerful in order to gain something for themselves and their identity group at the cost of others, including many members of their identity group. Again, they’re not identity-group traitors–they just have shallow and destructive politics that ultimately harm a lot of people.
    These rightwingers are people who police the use of the word “faggot” or use a comment by a Muslim scholar to justify state repression of free speech and immigrants’ rights, while at the same time supporting economic and in some cases social policies that fundamentally undermine the rights of all kinds of people–including a lot of lgbt people who happen to be poor, or women, or immigrants, or outside the United States, or any number of other things. They attempt to draw a line between the awful “racism” of someone who commits hate crimes but think the death penalty and drug war tactics are worth considering if not wholly endorsable.

    I’d appreciate if you would actually pay more attention to what I’m saying in the future before you decide to tear down some other person’s arguments that you’ve decided to attribute to me. I didn’t call you “homophobic”.

    If you still can’t understand why it’s inappropriate and unfair to LGBT people to bring up Ramadan’s opinions about LGBT people in a question of why he should or shouldn’t be legally excluded from the United States for no ostensible reason other than his political views, then I don’t think I have that much more to say at this point.

    Enjoy your day.

  3. I didn’t call you “homophobic”.

    You’re trying to eat your cake and have it too. I use homosexuals as “ragdolls” but I’m not homophobic. OK.

    I want to take away the rights of gays by “supporting economic and in some cases social policies that fundamentally undermine the rights of all kinds of people,” but I’m not homophobic. Ok, you leave a little wiggle room b/c maybe I just don’t know the rights of gays will be trampled upon by my policies and it’s only homophobia if you do it conciously. But wait, you said:

    “It’s the worst kind of sophistry.” Sophists deliberately mislead so now you’re saying I know my policies hurt gays, but I’m not homophobic. Worse still, my defense of gay rights itself is a ruse (rigthwingers are “presenting themselves as tolerant–it’s basically a marketing strategy”) So now I don’t believe in gay rights at all, but I’m not homophobic.

    I’m willing to take you at your word that you don’t think I’m homophobic, but there seems to be a contradicion here.

    it’s inappropriate and unfair to LGBT people to bring up Ramadan’s opinions about LGBT people in a question of why he should or shouldn’t be legally excluded from the United States for no ostensible reason other than his political views

    Was it inappropriate and unfair to Muslims to bring up Modi’s opinions about Muslims in a question of why he should or shouldn’t be legally excluded from the United States? Did you lodge your complaints during that debate? Double standards are so convienient when the facts are inconvienient to your polictics.

  4. The Ramadan visa imbroglio pales in comparison to this looming issue:

    Saudis Offered Scholarships for Aviation Courses in US JEDDAH, 20 June 2006 — The Ministry of Higher Education and the General Authority of Civil Aviation are offering scholarships to Saudi men and women to study various majors related to civil aviation in the United States. The forms are available online at the ministry’s website until July 12 for both bachelor’s and post-graduate studies. Nominations will be announced on July 31. Interviews will take place in August and final scholarship winners will be announced on Sept. 2. The scholarships are available in majors such as communications, electrical and computer engineering, computer science, systems analysis, air traffic control, flight safety, and other majors related to the airline transport industry. Link

    On site training for the second wave ? I wonder what DHS & the State Dept think of granting those visas…

  5. Was it inappropriate and unfair to Muslims to bring up Modi’s opinions about Muslims in a question of why he should or shouldn’t be legally excluded from the United States? Did you lodge your complaints during that debate?

    Yes, actually. Also, calling participation in a pogrom “opinions” is ignorant at best.

    I’m willing to take you at your word that you don’t think I’m homophobic, but there seems to be a contradicion here.

    “Homophobic” is a complicated word that some people use narrowly and other people use broadly, which almost strips it of meaning in conversations like this. I was drawing a distinction between those who support LGBT rights, narrowly construed, vs. those who support people, some to many of whom happen to be LGBT or queer. The criticism I’m leveling is in the use of pro-lgbt politics to support a regressive agenda because it’s inherently bad, not because it’s homophobic. The fact that it’s often aligned with people who are advancing the heteronormative agenda makes people who do the above naive, bigoted, cynical or some combination of the above.

    What Vikram did is a fairly crass instance of this.

  6. What Vikram did is a fairly crass instance of this.

    Right. And yet Ramadan gets no such criticism for his crassness in using supposed Western injustices to the Islamic world to further his narrow minded agendas. He’s a “scholar” no doubt :-)

  7. Since many of the folks in this discussion seem to be venting prejudices with little concern for facts, I’d like to offer a couple of factual corrections, as someone who has spent a fair amount of time studying this material. Hassan al-Banna is not the extreme right wing granddaddy of Islamism – he was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood and if you’d care to read his writings, you’ll see that he had a fairly liberal view of the compatibility of Islam with parliamentary democracy and so on – not as liberal as reformists like Abduh and Afghani, but not far. It was Sayyid Qutb who was the radical rejectionist.

    As for the Southern Baptists, back in the day they were anti racial integration, they have since become more moderate but if you look up Richard Land (one of their leaders) and his positions on various political and racial issues, and especially on homosexuality and abortion, you will realize that he is pretty darned reactionary. There are plenty of Christian Right figures, btw, who believe that God’s law must trump human laws and America is a Christian country, and we must bring about God’s rule on earth. As far as I can tell, no one is arguing that they are a danger to American democracy. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and Bob Jones university are hardly paragons of tolerance either, but they have their place in American society and academy, much as we may dislike them.

  8. As for the Southern Baptists, back in the day they were anti racial integration, they have since become more moderate but if you look up Richard Land (one of their leaders) and his positions on various political and racial issues, and especially on homosexuality and abortion, you will realize that he is pretty darned reactionary. There are plenty of Christian Right figures, btw, who believe that God’s law must trump human laws and America is a Christian country, and we must bring about God’s rule on earth. As far as I can tell, no one is arguing that they are a danger to American democracy. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and Bob Jones university are hardly paragons of tolerance either, but they have their place in American society and academy, much as we may dislike them.

    Have any of them been invited to lecture in universities in the Middle East ? Just curious ?

  9. ::As for the Southern Baptists :Have any of them been invited to lecture in universities in the Middle East

    Never mind the Middle East, have any of them been invited to lecture in universities in the US ?!!

    M. Nam

  10. As far as I can tell, no one is arguing that they are a danger to American democracy. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and Bob Jones university are hardly paragons of tolerance either, but they have their place in American society and academy, much as we may dislike them.

    Right, but I don’t think Jerry Falwell / Bob Jones are looking for visas to Saudi Arabia / Pakistan to teach in a college there.. If a govt. denies some one a visa, what’s the big deal.. they don’t have to explain the reasons to everyone or even apply the same reasons for every case.. US admin, denied visa to Modi on the grounds of being a “egregious violator of religious freedom” but gives a red carpet welcome to Saudi rulers and Mr. Musharaff..

  11. thank you SP for your points; and thank you saurav for the carefulness and equanimity you are showing in this conversation. i am sure there are many lurkers out there who are glad for your perspective.

  12. American political candidates often speak at Bob Jones and Liberty universities. Do a quick Google news search in the last year. Christian Right figures have not applied for visas to Saudi, but Saudi is not the US, and the US, as a democracy, works differently. The BJP coalition govt did deny visas to Christian speakers and missionaries and the Sangh frequently holds protests against them when they visit India, but as a democracy India does not exclude them, and I am proud of that as an Indian.

    The old chestnut about “why should we be tolerant of Muslims when they are intolerant of everyone” is a favourite of bigots at home, so I shouldn’t be surprised to hear it from the rightist desi male contingent here – but do consider, if you feel like opening your minds just a wedge, the inconsistency between the sentiment that “we are superior because we are liberal and tolerant while they are not” and the sentiment that “because someone else is intolerant (in this case, a small repressive kingdom that has about a tenth the number of Muslims as South Asia) that gives us license to turn around and be as intolerant and bigoted as we like.”

  13. if you feel like opening your minds just a wedge, the inconsistency between the sentiment that “we are superior because we are liberal and tolerant while they are not”

    ROFL.. It is always the others who need to open their minds..

    I don’t think “west” is “superior” because they are “liberal and tolerant” though they may claim that to be the case, but the real reason is that they are “militarily and economically” strong enough to afford to be “liberal and tolerant”.. You see the PATRIOT and similar acts in US and UK (etc..) after 9/11 and 7/7.. Just guess what will happen after a next major terrorist attack (heaven forbid if it happens)..

  14. a small repressive kingdom that has about a tenth the number of Muslims as South Asia) that gives us license to turn around and be as intolerant and bigoted as we like.”

    We’re not exactly talking about a quaint little fairytale kingdom like Monaco here… One can trace most Islamic terror networks having funding and ideology directly coming from Saudi Arabia.

    The very idea of a visa one can argue is discriminatory… after all the US does not need visas for visitors from all countries. So then what right has it to require one for specific countries ? Isn’t that non-uniformity in itself a form of intolerance and bigotry ?

  15. The old chestnut about “why should we be tolerant of Muslims when they are intolerant of everyone” is a favourite of bigots at home, so I shouldn’t be surprised to hear it from the rightist desi male contingent here

    SP:

    If you read the “rightist desi male contingent here” carefully, you will see that Razib and I explicitly support giving Ramadan a visa, MoorNam has not said he wouldn’t give him a visa, and only Vikram has taken the position it should be denied. So perhaps what you are “hearing” from this contingent is your own sterotypes about us.

    It’s a sad day when us male hetro right-wingers are the only ones willing to stand up for the rights of a minority being persecuted by a very powerful group.

  16. These rightwingers are people who police the use of the word “faggot” or use a comment by a Muslim scholar to justify state repression of free speech and immigrants’ rights, while at the same time supporting economic and in some cases social policies that fundamentally undermine the rights of all kinds of people–including a lot of lgbt people who happen to be poor, or women, or immigrants, or outside the United States, or any number of other things. They attempt to draw a line between the awful “racism” of someone who commits hate crimes but think the death penalty and drug war tactics are worth considering if not wholly endorsable

    Well, if they don’t draw your line, are they wrong? Why is it all or nothing with you? If someone “polices” intolerant language, they can’t support the death penalty? Even people who respect you (and I do) don’t share your exact morality.

  17. Yes, actually. Also, calling participation in a pogrom “opinions” is ignorant at best

    We’ve reached common ground.

    The criticism I’m leveling is in the use of pro-lgbt politics to support a regressive agenda because it’s inherently bad, not because it’s homophobic.

    What constitutes regressive is up for debate. You’ve been dodging this debate under the guise that Vikram (and perhaps myself) have a “hidden agenda.” Vikram is posing a conundrum: that having open borders may lead to the persecution of a sexual minority? You could have responded that you acknowledge Ramadan’s bigotry but the principle of free speech or open borders takes precedence. Instead you chose to doubt Vikram sincerity.

    The fact that it’s often aligned with people who are advancing the heteronormative agenda makes people who do the above naive, bigoted, cynical or some combination of the above.

    Your observing a universal. You’re own opinion on this matter forces you to align w/ a homophobe. I’m sure you’ve found yourself, in other situations, where your position may put you in the same boat with say, castro-apologists, viloent anarchists, communists, etc.

  18. Well, if they don’t draw your line, are they wrong? Why is it all or nothing with you? If someone “polices” intolerant language, they can’t support the death penalty? Even people who respect you (and I do) don’t share your exact morality.

    Sigh…they’re not wrong for opposing bigotry. They’re wrong for ascribing to an understanding of the world in which expressions of bigotry are the problem and the underlying systemic causes are not a problem. The more cynical among them will then use condemantion of bigotry as a way of promoting the underlying problems and in the process harm people–and that is wrong. If you are opposed to racism but at the same time deny the racism inherent in the criminal justice system, you’re either naive, a racist, or some combination of the two.

    They don’t have to share my “exact morality”–just concede on an analytical level that this is what’s going on in many places and that it’s far more complicated than a simple issue of who is a “homophobe” or a “racist” and who is not.

  19. thank you saurav for the carefulness and equanimity you are showing in this conversation. i am sure there are many lurkers out there who are glad for your perspective.

    siddhartha – “equanimity”??? you’ve got to be f–king kidding me. try self-righteousness, hostility, and disdain — and that’s painful for me to say, because i more or less agree with a lot of what he has to say. but it’s almost as if he’s doing his very best to drive people who don’t agree with him on every last thing over to the dark side. no wonder progressives are out of power in every institution in the country.

  20. where your(Saurav’s) position may put you in the same boat with say, castro-apologists, viloent anarchists, communists, etc

    Manju,

    If you are looking for a common thread that brings together LGBT activists, illegal aliens, Feminists, Communists, Islamists etc – it’s the Economic Policy. Despite their huge conflicts (Illegal Aliens are homophobes and pro-life, Communists and Islamists are at each others’ throats elsewhere in the world etc etc), they come together because all of them want a free ride at the taxpayer’s expense. All of them worship at the altar of the New Deal.

    In pre-New Deal era America , one had to save and pinch pennies like a Marwari in order to have any status in society. The Government did not take care of anyone in their old age, so they had to fall back on their savings, children and the goodwill accumalated with relatives (all of which drive LGBT and Feminists up the wall). In pre-New Deal America, an immigrant had to work his/her ass off like a Gujju Motel owner and serve in the armed forces like a Sikh before he became eligible to expect anything, least of all free medical care (all of which drive Illegal aliens up the wall). In pre-New Deal America, there was no Welfare, so women actually kept their legs crossed like a south-indian belles and did not produce children out of wedlock like rabbits(all of which drive Feminists up the wall). In pre-New Deal America, bums did not get paid by the State. They starved to death in the cold winter (which drives Communists up the wall). In pre-New Deal, there was little state-support of education, so anybody who came to America with the notion of denigrating it faced the wrath of society (which drives Islamists up the wall).

    It’s an alliance of convinience to stiff hard working taxpayers using Government dictat. The moment you start giving people something for nothing – it’s over.

    At least America is not as bad as Europe, which I feel is on its last legs. A 2000 year old civilisation will be exitinct by the next century.

    M. Nam

  21. actually, what i read in the brother’s comments is serious engagement with issues, willingness to reply to all questions whether they are well or poorly phrased, and a willingness to self-criticize and to examine the warts in his own communities that honors him.

    but hey, to-may-to, to-mah-to and all that.

    peace

  22. In pre-New Deal America, there was no Welfare, so women actually kept their legs crossed like a south-indian belles and did not produce children out of wedlock like rabbits.

    !!!

  23. It’s a sad day when us male hetro right-wingers are the only ones willing to stand up for the rights of a minority being persecuted by a very powerful group.

    Thank you, oh great and wonderful hetero messiah, for bringing to mine eyes the light of truth! For verily, I say, without your guidance and powerful strength, our moral resolve would fall apart. We, the homosexuals in your midst, would begin to welcome the beatings and murders of our own people due to our own cowardice.

    rolls eyes

    For the record, your “right wing” views actually make it more difficult to deal with the intersection of homophobia and Islam because you would eliminate the space for conversation by tarring people with the label of “homophobic” for the purposes of other arguments that have absolutely nothing to do with protecting LGBT rights or people.

    In any case, since you’re such a passionate and unwavering defender of LGBT rights and people in all contexts, I expect to see you all protesting the government of Iran, the government of the United States, the government of Poland, the government of Russia, and the NYPD all of which have undermined LGBT rights and LGBT people’s well being in different ways in the past month. You can find out more here. Let me know which demonstration or actvitiy you’ll be going to, publicizing, or otherwise supporting.

    Unless, that is, you’re too busy protecting us from a Muslim scholar who was denied a visa on ideological grounds by the U.S. government–clearly the most serious threat to the LGBT communities of the world ;)

  24. siddhartha — “equanimity”??? you’ve got to be f–king kidding me. try self-righteousness, hostility, and disdain — and that’s painful for me to say, because i more or less agree with a lot of what he has to say. but it’s almost as if he’s doing his very best to drive people who don’t agree with him on every last thing over to the dark side. no wonder progressives are out of power in every institution in the country.

    so stop lurking and say it better than me, yo :) I’ll begrudgingly shut up :)

  25. Saurav:

    Unless, that is, you’re too busy protecting us from a Muslim scholar who was denied a visa on ideological grounds by the U.S. government

    Apparently you’ve somehow failed to notice I support Ramadan’s visa (posts 55,59,116).

    You seem to have your mind made up, to the point that you’re not even willing to engage in a debate about the visa (you only engage in a meta-critque of the other’s thinking). It’s almost as if it is a matter of fact that the visa denial is oppresive and that there are no reasonable arguments on the other side, and that those who think different are either “naive, a racist, or some combination of the two.”

  26. ok, sure, siddhartha — i see some of what you are seeing as well. i shouldn’t have let myself paint a completely one-sided picture so caustically — in general, i respect saurav and do appreciate his perspective in this space. and as a bonus i sometimes find his comments unbelievably funny. ;) so on that count you are correct and i should have said so, rather than responding with a comment that could be taken as the mirror image of what i was criticizing. apologies for that.

    but that said, certainly in this thread i also see examples of what i was identifying — questioning motives (and related, in at least one example, discounting the sincerity of an equality-based critique because it did not come from an “LGBT activist”), not engaging arguments directly (or in their strongest formulation rather than their weakest/straw man like form), calling people ignorant (“at best”), accusing them of using LGBT people as “ragdolls.” and at least one sigh, just like al gore (which of course went over really well in the debate w/bush.)

    and at the end of the day, avoiding the underlying issue, at least to some extent. there is a legitimate tension to be discussed here: liberal principles in speech and migration policy — which i believe in deeply — can be strained and placed under tension when they protect people who do not share the same commitment to those principles. (the aclu defending the nazis, yada yada.) that isn’t something to avoid discussing, it’s something that we absolutely must engage directly and respectfully if we are to ensure that those liberal principles survive. now, whether or not ramadan himself legitimately falls into that category, i haven’t the foggiest. and i’m sure that for many of us, the resolution of that issue doesn’t feel all that difficult to figure out because we’ve thought about it long enough and in enough different contexts to understand almost intuitively what we believe.

    but that isn’t true for everyone, and it doesn’t mean that the issue isn’t a “hard” one in the formal sense. and i don’t think that we do ourselves any favors by attacking people who raise the issue, even if it seems like some of them might be doing so as a cover for some other agenda. because even if some of them might be, in general there are plenty of other intelligent and thoughtful people who are not, and who struggle with that tension sincerely. the last thing we need to be doing as progressives (i think) is to suggest that by struggling with that tension, they are merely ignorant-at-best tools of the right who don’t really care about equality for LGBT people in any sincere way, but rather are predisposed to use LGBT people as ragdolls, and to do so as a matter of convenience. “hearts and minds,” and all that — applies here at home as much as it does abroad.

    for that reason, i don’t think that it’s just a to-may-to/to-mah-to thing, really, for as someone who shares many of saurav’s political commitments much of the time, i don’t like to see arguments that seem likely to alienate people who might otherwise be persuaded to what i believe in. nor, however, should i have reacted as if the sky were falling.

    **

    actually, siddhartha, in this discussion i have scrupulously remained a lurker until now. and believe it or not, i am somewhat bemused. ;)

  27. bemused, fair enough, and thanks for the clarification. still the problem in this whole conversation is that it became one about LGBT rights and/or about the purported “convenience” or “inconvenience” to various people of holding various views in conjunction with one another. when the point was to talk about tariq ramadan, freedom of speech, academic freedom, and visa policy. this shape-shifting of the “Well, if you don’t like THIS, i don’t see you opposing THAT” discursive variety is classic intolerance and bullying, commonly observed on Fox News (and lampooned on the Daily Show); among its numerous toxic effects, it ends up instrumentalizing whatever cause the shape-shifter chooses to allude to as a way of distracting from the main point. whether various people here are “pro-” or “anti-” LGBT (whatever those reductions may mean) is not the issue; the issue is that LGBT rights are the item that the first commenter to shape-shift chose to pick from his bag of tricks. that looks like a ragdoll, or scarecrow, or straw man, call it what you will, to me.

    peace

  28. “Well, if you don’t like THIS, i don’t see you opposing THAT” discursive variety is classic intolerance and bullying, commonly observed on Fox News (and lampooned on the Daily Show)

    True that, and it’s a dilemma of our time that I don’t know that very many of us have really figured out how to deal with as effectively as we could. So far be it for me to be too caustic with others who are struggling w/that dilemma.

    There is however a point of convergence between the seemingly-unrelated issues being discussed here, which is that debates over visa/immigration policies both here and to a much greater extent in Europe since 9/11 have frequently been about what kinds of “threats” immigration policy should recognize and seek to prevent — and in particular, whether ideological exclusion can be justified in order to preserve the liberal character of European/North American national communities against extremism with respect to, for example, women’s rights and LGBT rights in addition to political extremism. (For example, in the Netherlands, where increasing numbers of progressives are as anti-immigrant as the farthest reaches of the right wing.) I’m not so sure that to raise that issue in the context of a discussion of Tariq Ramadan is automatically “shape-shifting” — though it may well have been in the comment you have in mind above — since the two forms of extremism are often understood, at least in everyday understandings held by many people, to be deeply intertwined, at least among some of their adherents. In a discussion of ideological exclusion on the basis of alleged political “Islamic extremism,” it doesn’t strike me as that much of a stretch that these other aspects of that supposed “extremism” might come up as part of the mix, and that they might be a legitimate part of the conversation — at least generally speaking.

    okay, back to lurking.