It turns out that the singer Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens was denied entry to the United States because of a simple spelling mistake on the part of federal officials, who thought Stevens was Youssouf Islam. The funny thing about this is that the neocon Weekly Standard has already published articles justifying the banning of Cat Stevens, like this one from Stephen Schwartz. The burning question is: Who is the next famous personality who will be banned due to a spelling error and whose banning subsequently justified in the pages of The Weekly Standard ?. Some suspicious candidates come to mind: Amartya Sen, Arundhati Roy, Sting, Gabriel Garcia Marquez....
Last month, the Swiss Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan's visa was also revoked, preventing him from assuming a temporary position as a guest lecturer at the Kroc Institute for Peace Studies at Notre Dame. What was ironic about this was that, as Scoot Marten pointed out in his blog, Ramadan is the closest person America could get to "a Islamic intellectual figure who is likely to be more acceptable as the other side in an American dialogue with Islam."
Earlier this year, the novelist Ian McEwan, flying from Canada, was detained for hours by American airport personnel. What McEwan found infinitely frustrating was that he was sitting next to a money launderer with a suitcase full of cash. Never mind that McEwan happens to be one of Laura Bush's favorite writers. In Fortress America, NO ONE is beyond suspicion.