As we’re having a relatively heated debate about the merits of Trump’s travel ban, headlines are telling us about yet another problem with our existing foreign travel bureaucracy. A group of teenage girls from Afghanistan have been denied visas to come to the US to attend a robotics competition.
Let that sink in a moment.
Remember all the talk about encouraging girls in the US and around the world to get involved in STEM? Well, apparently that is at least partly lip service.
The girls are participating in a global robotics competition sponsored by First Global, and their team page there talks all about how the girls are trying to increase educational opportunities for girls in their country. So, yes we are talking about group of girls like Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel laureate.
Before anyone gets the bright idea to blame this on Trump, it honestly isn’t him – this time. However, it is a symptom of a larger problem that we have when it comes to foreigners visiting the US. The robotics team was denied visas because someone thought it would be a good idea to severely limit business related visas granted to anyone coming here from Afghanistan. No, that isn’t a joke.
Yes, our bureaucrats have decided that we shouldn’t encourage Afghani citizens to visit the US for business while we are theoretically trying to help that nation stand on its own without relying on “bad” things, like perhaps the opium trade that has been funding radicals in that region for years. If you’re confused, don’t feel bad. You should be.
Now we can get back to Trump and his travel ban, since it’s creating more of the same problems elsewhere. Radical Islam offers people in many nations things that they can’t get from anywhere else. Whether it’s state-sanctioned or not, these terror organizations don’t just go around the world raising hell – they provide infrastructure needs that we take for granted here in the US. They help the poor, provide jobs, and offer the people hope for something better. When they start killing the locals, they aren’t viewed as kindly, of course. However, if we really want to defeat these radicals, we need to help the people in these countries have what those groups give them. That doesn’t mean throwing money at them, because they typically end up in dire straits because of corruption – money would just be stolen by the bureaucrats and religious leaders. They need business opportunities, so they can be independent of their corrupt governments and the terror organizations.
While we don’t hear politicians say that outright often, that doesn’t mean that they don’t know that. They do. Since we’re so busy jumping from one scandalous tweet to the next, and the press is too busy making itself part of the headlines, no one is asking about that.
Why isn’t the US literally begging regular people from nations with terror organizations to come to the US to communicate with business leaders here? Why aren’t we making it very easy for US businesses to invest in start-ups over there? Yes, it’s a high risk investment, but there are always some investors out there who take those chances, especially here in the US.
Since the Washington Post decided to point out exactly why the Afghan girls were denied visas to come to a robot competition, maybe we’ll see a few intrepid journalists who will decide to really track down this issue, and put it in the spotlight. It might happen, if there’s a lull in the manufactured mayhem from Twitter.
Otherwise, just a little advice for First Global – next time, hold the competition in a country that will welcome competitors from every nation that has a team. Sadly, that probably won’t be the US.