Charles Basenga Kiyanda

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(cross-posted on Facebook as a public update)
It’s not every day that one gets to have basic philosophical interrogations about a concrete action in one’s everyday, professional life.
I have two conferences coming up in the US. There is a (still looking small) number of canadian academics boycotting conferences taking place in the US in response to the US government’s ban, preventing people from certain countries to enter the country. I’m not personally affected and I don’t have students who are affected, but I’m forced to think about this issue. My university’s professional and student body is very diverse with many people from countries affected by the US government’s action. I have several colleagues who have immigrated from Iran. I am an assistant professor, tenure-track, but very much not tenured, so taking certain actions may very well have implications on my future. (Full disclosure: my personal tin-foil hat wearing theory is that the 7 country exclusion is the map of the current US administration’s view of zones under at least some iranian influence and potential conflict zones. My conspiracy theory is that the US administration is drawing the map of engagement in a developing conflict with Iran.)
Now, I have to wonder… Are the current actions of the US government legitimate? The administration may have the legal (or even moral) right to refuse entry to nationals of certain countries, but canceling already emitted refugee visas is, at least in my book, immoral. Does the fact that the judicial branch put a stay pending litigation mean that I should limit the level of actions that I take? After all, I may disagree with the administration’s decisions, but there are 3 branches of government in the US. This ban may end up never being put in place.
If you’re under 20 and wondering why society is making you take philosophy classes, this is it. The extremes are easy to judge, but times like now are the interesting grey areas that require long and hard thinking.

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