George Packer: Let Tariq Ramadan in

From The New Yorker:

France_ramadan_1The United States should grant Tariq Ramadan a visa, not because he has an inalienable right to one but in the interest of the national good. The continuing effort to keep him out is a strategic mistake, and it shows a depressingly familiar failure on the part of the Administration to grasp the nature of the conflict with Islamist radicalism. It is a struggle of ideas, played out around the world, and a figure like Ramadan, who can appeal to young Muslims on the basis of both group identity and tolerance, is a valuable interlocutor. Allowing him to assume his position at Notre Dame as Luce Professor of Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding would not necessarily improve Muslim-Western understanding (interfaith dialogue is overrated, as the Pope recently demonstrated). But it would reduce the “habits of hypocrisy and meanness” that Jefferson identified as the result of legislating against thought. Barring Ramadan makes the country that claims to represent the side of freedom in this struggle appear defensive, timorous, and closed.

More here.  And see also the video Islam and the West, the second annual New Yorker Town Hall Meeting, with Omar Ahmad, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Mahmood Mamdani, Azar Nafisi, Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, and Lawrence Wright. George Packer, moderator.