Why Won’t They Let Professor Funke In?

Hajo Funk. Photo credit: Main-Echo

By Peter Galuszka

There’s a very curious case involving the University of Virginia that involves freedom of speech and free education, but it doesn’t involve the usual complaints of Mr. Jefferson’s University being a hotbed of Bolshevism.

Rather, it involves a renowned German professor who has had a rough time getting a U.S. visa after he was invited to teach in Charlottesville, according to the Cavalier Daily. Political scientist Hajo Funke had been invited to lead two courses as The Max Kade Distinguished Visiting Professor. On Thursday, he finally got his visa after a months-long wait.

Funke’s specialty is the study of right-wing politics, notably the re-emergence of the trends in Europe which has seen the rise of white supremacism, anti-immigration and anti-Semitism. Some examples include Hungary, Poland, Russia, France and other countries.

He had been slated to teach two courses, “Right-Wing Populism and the Far Right” and “Historical Political Memory” but had had to do them via teleconferencing from Berlin.

The university invited him to teach in November and he went to the U.S. Consulate in Germany to apply for the appropriate visa. Surprisingly, he was told that approval was being delayed with no reason given. According to the media, one possible reason is that he had visited Iran to see his wife’s family and to do some research.

If so, that suggests that Donald Trump’s xenophobic policies may be to blame. It’s a true shame that if a scholar visits certain countries to do some research, he or she is put on a black list.

This conjures up the days of Joe McCarthy. I used to deal with visa issues all the time when I was a U.S. news correspondent  in Moscow during the Cold War.

One of Funke’s studies involves comparing the 2017 uprising by white supremacists in Charlottesville with a 2018 uprising of a similar type in 2018 in Chemnitz, Germany.

It’s a true shame that Charlottesville has become the unwanted symbol of hate and violence that started over the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. It’s been spreading throughout Europe as well, in part because the Arab Spring and the Syrian war have created great crowds of immigrants looking for safe haven.

On this blog, one reads regular critiques of U.Va. for being some kind of haven for political correctness and anti-thought. But consider Funke’s case.

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24 responses to “Why Won’t They Let Professor Funke In?

  1. Prof. Funke should have asked the current ambassador to Germany for some assistance maneuvering through such foibles of the Trump Administration.

  2. A German professor was coming to lecture. His visa was delayed. He gave the lectures by teleconference.

  3. Am I missing something? It was the State Department that has been sitting on his visa, right? Not UVA. UVA wanted him to come. How does this story dispute that university’s reputation for political correctness? Doesn’t this confirm that reputation? I mean, Foggy Bottom isn’t keeping him out because he’s a centrist….yet UVA is hot to have him on campus?

  4. The big question that has yet to be answered is why Funk has not yet been admitted to the U.S. It’s a reasonable hypothesis that he has been barred for expressing views antithetical to those of the Trump administration, and it’s worth worth pursuing the matter and finding out the answer. But it would be irresponsible at this point to assume the conjecture is correct and then build a whole series of conclusions based on the unproven conjecture. Once you start talking about Trumpian xenophobia, Joseph McCarthy and Soviet visa-issuance practices, Peter, you’re getting way ahead of yourself.

    Let’s nail down the reason. If your conjecture is verified, then go to town. A dislike of Funk’s political views is not a legitimate reason for denying the professor permission to enter the United States. Until we know what is going on, however, speculation is just that… speculation.

    • It’s Funke. Other stories on the denial do mention that his wife is Iranian and he recently traveled there. Agreed, we have no idea why he is being denied and in general his views should not be preventing him from coming. I suspect every president has had examples of his State Department not granting visas for suspected political views…

      • so you think it is common practice for POTUS to personally decide who can enter or not? Obama. Bush. Carter, etc.. all did it too?

        • I doubt Trump has any idea about this at all. They leave him sitting at his computer playing with Twitter for a reason :).

          • You don’t think all those folks that have been fired for not being loyal were not done by Trump?

            Sounds again like – can’t really prove that Mafia chief actually ordered the “hit”… he was as they say “otherwise occupied”.

            Isn’t this the very same guy who personally attacks the Judge and a juror in the Roger Stone case?

            Do you think he’s just fiddling with Twitter with no real knowledge of what he is actually tweeting about?

            good lord!

          • warrenhollowbooks

            “You don’t think all those folks that have been fired for not being loyal were not done by Trump?”

            Wow, just wow. So if you don’t assume that Trump is PERSONALLY responsible for one case of someone not being allowed to enter the US (with no evidence for the claim by the way) then we MUST BE denying he has played any role in EVER having had anyone fired from his administration??

            A logical leap that requires wings.

  5. Do we think if Trump did order the action that the folks who he ordered are going to actually admit that Trump ordered them?

    🙂

    Let’s see, we have no prior pattern of Trump on stuff like this to judge , right?

    sorta like “speculating” that the Mafia ordered a “hit” but wait until we know for sure from the guys who did the hit?

    😉

    • “sorta like “speculating” that the Mafia ordered a “hit” but wait until we know for sure from the guys who did the hit?”

      How about waiting in fact to see if there WAS a “hit”
      Or if the subject is even dead.

      You know, . . .like facts . . .

  6. Yep. I am missing something as to why this man ‘s visa is being delayed. Did trump personally deny it? How the hell do i know. But his visa policies are clear and a major backward step for academics, business and so on. You Baconauts might not get it, but we live a global, not “Virginian” world.

    • My wife’s first application for a passport was rejected. We concluded that they agreed a person with that name and SS# really existed, but it wasn’t her. It was a giant hassle getting that reversed. Sometimes government just screws up and getting the hidden deciders to change their minds is like pulling teeth. Not for one second did I think President Obama was getting even with me for voting against him twice…..Damn, missed one helluva BR post when that happened!

  7. Steve.i can tell you visa stories that would bring tears to your eyes. This one, however, stinks.

  8. Surely it has to be a CONSPIRACY!!!!!!

    . . . because it certainly couldn’t be our bureaucratic Federal government

    And really, white supremacist “uprising” . . . (eye roll)

  9. Oh, come no.

    Iran wants to blow us up. Israel too, preferably with an nuclear bomb. The German professor is visiting Iran, doing research there, and God knows what else. Meanwhile our universities are leaking like watering buckets, from esteemed Chairman of Harvard’s Chemistry Department on down as international thefts and looting by bad actors and foreign governments of American universities are exploding.

    And we should be enraged about a delayed visa because UVa. needs this German guy to tell them exactly what they want to hear about events in Charlottesville in which UVa played an central roll but refuse to admit to doing and stubbornly hide instead?

    That’s us, modern America in the Year of our Lord 2020!

  10. re: ” Wow, just wow. So if you don’t assume that Trump is PERSONALLY responsible for one case of someone not being allowed to enter the US (with no evidence for the claim by the way) then we MUST BE denying he has played any role in EVER having had anyone fired from his administration??”

    oh , we don’t have a pattern from the guy? It’s like a guy that’s whacked others on a regular basis and his defenders say ” what PROOF do you have, aren’t you jumping to conclusions?”

    then of course, the next step is ” so what, other POTUS did it also”!

    This idiot goes on Twitter and directly threatens people BEFORE he actually does something and his defenders say ” what TWEET”? 😉

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