Friday, September 24, 2004

Yusif Islam (Cat Stevens) Update

I wrote earlier in the week on the lack of irony in this country: First they harrassed Art Spiegelman, and now they've deported Cat Stevens.

I gather that not everyone caught that Art Spiegelman was harrassed by police during the RNC. Here's the quote from Salon:
Author Irene Dische was covering the Bush speech for the German paper Die Zeit. Dische said she was sitting in the press stands with the artist and graphic novelist Art Spiegelman when police removed them both from the press stands and questioned them about their T-shirts. Spiegelman's T-shirt said "Pray for a secular society"; Dische's featured the word "Bush" and Chinese characters. She convinced police it said, "I love Bush" (it meant shit on Bush and flush him away) and was allowed to return to her seat. On her way back, an usher handed her an American flag and told her to wave it. When she refused to take it, she "immediately felt a hand on my shoulders," she said, and police quickly ushered her off the convention floor and into a station set up inside the Garden. They called immigration officials to check on her American status and questioned her for over an hour. She also convinced them to Google her on the Internet to prove that she was a legitimate writer. When she called her daughter, Emily, and spoke to her in German, one detective barked, "You don't speak in a language we can't understand here." Finally she was escorted to the street, with the police, Dische said, "trying to make nice the whole way."
The Dynamic Driveler has made the point that Stevens earned his lumps:
...the man has supported Islamic terrorist organizations. Worse yet he publicly used his fame with the Baby Boomer generation to promote his agreement with the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s fatwah against Saloman Rushdie that declared a death sentence against Salman for a novel he wrote (he later did a flip flop but only after much public outcry and particularly a sharp decline in record sales). Sorry gang - he should be kept out of North America. Choices have consequences. He made his choice now he gets to pay the consequences.
Fair enough, Doug, but my concerns are:
1. If we are deporting on the basis of hate speech, then Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, and Rush Limbaugh should be packing their bags.
2. To the best of my knowledge, the deportation happened without any recourse to due process. Yusuf Islam *allegedly* supported groups linked to terrorism: please don't underestimate how broadly, how loosely, and how opportunistically that can currently be interpreted here.

The New York Times article on the deportation points out that Tom Ridge got huffy that United Airlines let Islam on the plane, even though his name is allegedly on the do not fly list. However, United officials say his name was NOT on the list. In addition, Islam flew to the US in his status on the mysterious list, or his status with Homeland Security, has changed since then.

So, this is not so much about hate speech or fatwas or terrorist organizations...but mysterious lists that cannot be challenged and the ongoing assault on civil liberties in the US.

I think the final word goes to Newswriter:



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