PZ links to a site that offers American student bloggers scholarships. The basic idea – recognizing bloggers who are college students – is good, but for some reason, the rules require every contestant to be a US citizen. Not just a resident – a citizen. I couldn’t apply even without that restriction since I’m no longer in college, but it still showcases to me how Americans tend to treat non-US citizens like dirt.
A good example of a person who’d never be able to get this scholarship even if she did make it to college is Adama Bah. Bah is an 18-year-old girl who lives in New York is about to deported to Guinea, where she lived until she was 2, because the US government decided she was a potential suicide bomber despite having no evidence to support that belief.
[Link] Adama Bah’s schoolmates were jubilant when she returned to 10th grade at Heritage High School in Manhattan in May 2005 after six weeks in a distant juvenile detention center. Her release put to rest the federal government’s unexplained assertion that Adama, a popular 16-year-old who wore jeans under her Islamic garb, was a potential suicide bomber.
But a year and a half later, with many of her friends planning proms and applying to college, Ms. Bah, now 18, was still wearing an electronic ankle bracelet and tethered to a 10 p.m. government curfew, restrictions that were conditions of her release.
The ability of people not to care about the civil liberties of those who they consider different would astonish me if I weren’t already a cynic. The political meaning of “different” underlies Niemöller’s poem, “First they came…”; the racial meaning is why segregationists torpedoed Roosevelt’s race-neutral universal health care plan; the national meaning is why many American libertarians are literally up in arms about violations of American citizens’ rights but cheer when the US government shreds civil liberties abroad.
Her income fell far short of needs. And though a few community agencies tried to help with diapers for the youngest and trips to a food pantry, she said, the financial crisis deepened. In the end, it was an Islamic political activist in Maryland who came through, taking three of Ms. Bah’s siblings into his home for the summer, and paying $500 a month toward household expenses so she could attend summer school and re-enroll in Heritage this fall.
Incidentally, if the US government is looking for a self-centered reason not to treat non-Americans like dirt, here it is. If people find the government oppressive or even uncaring, they’ll turn to extremists like the activist described above, a former Black Panther who mainstream Muslim groups shy away from.