Sometimes there is reason to be hopeful that our Nation can self-correct and return to the principles it has finely tuned over the generations, of liberty, social responsibility and good citizenship. The decision of the US Department of State to overturn the ban on academics Tariq Ramadan and Adam Habib are examples of hope and perhaps light at the end of the tunnel of darkness we have surrounded ourselves in over the last decade. We’ve written extensively about Ramadan in the pages of Miscellany101 in what can only be termed an act of revenge against him and his family to keep him out of the mainstream of political, social and contemporary dialogue. When given the full weight of a judicial system, albeit imperfect, but still forming and trying to correct itself while being universally applicable, Ramadan’s visa revocation was first overturned by the judicial system in 2009 and then by the US Department of State just last week. Initially he had been hired for the Henry R. Luce Chair at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, but extremists who managed to infiltrate policy making positions in government were able to get the US government to revoke a visa they had originally granted him. The reasons for it were spurious at best, lies at worse and so transparent that when given the light of day were thrown out post haste. You can read one of Ramadan’s more recent musings here. Good government.
Along with Ramadan’s decision the State Department overturned the revocation imposed on Adam Habib, a South African academic who is Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation & Advancement at the University of Johannesburg. It goes without saying the case against him was as empty and irrational as the one made against Ramadan. In fact, it seemed the only people afraid of Habib, besides American Islamophobes, were South African communists, which should have made Habib a significantly important figure with a right wing conservative administration the likes of George Bush’s. Habib’s case, like that of Ramadan, was wrapped up in the Islamophobic notions of Campus Watch, the Daniel Pipes led organization. You can read about them here and here. It didn’t take a Clinton led State Department very long to overturn her predecessor’s revocation for either of these two men; in fact less than a year after being in office. Says alot about a fanatically led Bush administration and even more about “good government”.
Euphoria however is quickly dashed when one reads about the US Justice Department’s quick reaction to the story of the three “suicides” at Guantanamo Bay and especially the reporting of that story by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann. Olbermann reported on his show how Justice was upset with his coverage of the story that was reported extensively by Scott Horton of Harper’s magazine and picked up by a lot of people on the blogosphere, including here at Miscellany101. It seems the Justice Department is only willing to comment negatively about the story, that is, to say Olbermann did a sloppy job of reporting it, but doesn’t see the need to comment on the essence of the charges made by US military men who have gone on record to say the series of events are not consistent with what they observed or were told later when promised an investigation. This is the worse case scenario for bad government. The leader of the free world, a designation we have heaped upon ourselves and which we wear proudly, and which is acknowledged by others the world over, doesn’t need to engage in this type of intimidation and stonewalling with a free press. Transparency, something promised by the Obama administration, means making all the facts available of investigations and going on record to actively and judiciously clear the name of government when tarnished by accusations the likes of which are in the Harper’s story. To do anything less than that is bad government….something we’ve been used to for the last decade.