Washington -- The Department of Homeland Security has damaged America's reputation as an open society, one that is strong and confident enough in its principles and beliefs to welcome differing views, by denying a visa to Professor Tariq Ramadan, the newly appointed Henry B. Luce professor of Religion, Conflict and Peace-Building at the University of Notre Dame ("Muslim scholar has visa revoked," Page 1, Aug. 24). A Homeland Security spokesman cited "public safety or national security interests" as justification for denying Ramadan and his family entry into the United States.
A Notre Dame spokesman has, appropriately, protested Homeland Security's action.
Who is in a better position to judge whether Ramadan's teaching and scholarship may help members of the Notre Dame community understand Islamic philosophy and ethics? Scholars at Notre Dame who have studied and read Ramadan's writings, or Homeland Security officials who have cried wolf so many times, in so many coded colors, that their credibility is, at the very least, suspect?
Notre Dame has stated that "Professor Ramadan is a distinguished scholar and a voice for moderation in the Muslim world" and that " . . . unsubstantiated charges intended to defame a Muslim intellectual is troublingly reminiscent of some of the darkest moments in U.S. history."
Homeland Security, on the other hand, has given no specific reason for interfering with Notre Dame's right to appoint this distinguished scholar, but has invoked the USA Patriot Act as legal grounds for the revocation.
Notre Dame has the academic expertise to make solid judgments about Ramadan's positions on controversial issues, which in themselves pose no threat to American national security.
The Department of Homeland Security, however, has not demonstrated how Ramadan's views threaten U.S. security.