the decline in Muslim students in the US. Of course, he’s a far left ideologue, as are most academics. His assertion was that the Bush Administration had made things so inconvenient for Muslim students that they were going elsewhere–places like Australia, England and Canada.
I explained that the only program I’ve seen radically changed since 9/11 is the Visa Waiver Program where visitors from certain countries could come to the US for up to 90 days without acquiring a visa. That list had included many Middle Eastern countries prior to 9/11 and doesn’t include any now. And the rules used to allow a visitor to change his/her status after arriving in the US (ie, from tourist to student) without much more than a notification to INS, but now requires a new application and far more rigorous background check for any stay beyond the 90 days.
So while we may have made it more difficult to just fly into the US and stay for 90 days without anything more than a passport, I don’t think the new guidelines would be considered extreme by any rational person and I can’t imagine that any of the countries that have supposedly benefited from these new rules would have less stringent guidelines.
I then addressed his assertion that Muslim students have come under increased scrutiny–and I conceded that it might very well be that Muslim students are coming under more scrutiny than they were before 9/11. And anything above “none” would seem oppressive, especially when all the newspapers and fellow academics are assuring a student that he’s being scrutinized far beyond what is reasonable. I asked, if a student comes to this country, how much scrutiny does he expect? How does he know whether it’s “too much” or “too little” and compared to what?
I then posited that I found it far more plausible that Muslim students, based on the wild-eyed rantings of the anti-war crowd accusing President Bush of everything from turning the US into a police state to using the Patriot Act to lock up any Muslim he didn’t think looked western enough, would try to avoid the US at all costs and wouldn’t even apply for visas. I then asked that if he disagreed to give me one message–any message–any snipet or tidbit–that the left in this country broadcast to the rest of the world during the last 5 years that would encourage a Muslim (or anyone else, for that matter) to come to this country? So, I asked, isn’t the left once again bemoaning a situation that is primarily of its own making? I haven’t received an answer.