Archive for February 1, 2017

First they came for the Iranians: Impact of refugee ban on academia

Scott Aaronson is right — all academics need to speak out against this action.  President Trump’s new refugee ban will have a dramatic and deleterious effect on academic work in the United States.  Since there is a plan for a religious test (i.e., Christians will be treated differently than Muslims), it’s likely un-constitutional.  On many counts, it’s illegal and wrong. As educators and researchers, we have a responsibility to explain the impact that the ban will have in higher-education.

The rhetoric about the ban is frightening, like theories about the ban being a “head fake” while a fascist government forms in the United States. I don’t know enough about politics and game theory to evaluate these theories, so I’ll stick to what I do know.  America relies on University research and teaching, and Universities rely on immigration. Banning immigration will set back American interests.

Today, we learned that Trump is suspending the issuance of US visas to people from seven majority-Islamic countries, including Iran (but strangely not Saudi Arabia, the cradle of Wahhabist terrorism—not that that would be morally justified either).  This suspension might last just 30 days, but might also continue indefinitely—particularly if, as seems likely, the Iranian government thumbs its nose at whatever Trump demands that it do to get the suspension rescinded.

So the upshot is that, until further notice, science departments at American universities can no longer recruit PhD students from Iran—a country that, along with China, India, and a few others, has long been the source of some of our best talent.

Source: Shtetl-Optimized » Blog Archive » First they came for the Iranians

February 1, 2017 at 7:00 am 8 comments


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