Artistic License, Revoked

The war on terror is keeping musicians out of the U.S.

Down the line, of course, it doesn't take much effort to imagine that these seemingly subjective, often silly decisions, will be streamlined for use in this country's cultural wars. This administration is aligned with right-thinking censors who routinely attack arts organizations such as the Walker. And just as the U.S. Patriot Act defines "terrorism" so broadly that it could include labor unions and political protestors, the Border Security Act makes it possible for the Justice Department to wreak vengeance on artists who produce work critical of the U.S. or its behavior abroad.

Pianist Omar Sosa had to play the Walker Art Center without his vocalist, who got stuck in Cuba
Walker Art Center
Pianist Omar Sosa had to play the Walker Art Center without his vocalist, who got stuck in Cuba

"So far, I haven't seen a refusal that relates to artistic considerations," immigration attorney Danielson concludes. "But I do know what position the INS takes concerning civil disobedience and outcry against the U.S.: Americans can do it, but foreigners sure can't."

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