The International Society for Language Studies was created as an interdisciplinary association where scholars interested in a wide variety of critical perspectives on language could engage in dialogue, discussion, and debate on matters of common concern. From the very beginnings of the ISLS, we have striven to be open and inclusive, and our conferences and publications have sought to be models of collegiality and civility. We have been able to provide contexts and settings in which scholars from all over the world have been able to meet, share ideas and insights, and yes, disagree and argue about matters of common concern. This is what scholarship is all about, and we have been proud to contribute in our own way to it.
The majority of our members are located in the United States, and so events in the US sometimes have a disproportionate impact on us, both as individuals and as an organization. In the past, we have, for example, had to deal with visa problems for members coming from certain countries. We are now, however, faced with what can only be seen as an unprecedented challenge to us as individuals, as a community, and as a scholarly society.
On January 27th, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order, entitled Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrrorist Entry Into the United States. As we have seen, this Executive Order has already had a number of impacts: it has inflicted not merely inconvenience, as White House supporters argue, but very real suffering on large numbers of extremely vulnerable individuals and families, including holders of U.S. green cards, holders of valid U.S. visas, individuals who worked as translators and interpreters side by side with American troops, and families whose only goal was to escape carnage and chaos in their homelands. What it has not done, and in our view is unlikely to do, is to make the United States safer in any meaningful way. It is not simply misguided, nor even bad policy, but it is cruel, and violates not only the American Constitution but also the very principles and beliefs that have made this country a beacon to much of the rest of the world.
Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrrorist Entry Into the United States is already being challenged and adjudicated, but we cannot be sure that it will be overturned. As an academic organization, we have neither the legal standing nor the power to challenge this Executive Order. We are unable to assist our colleagues from the affected nations who might wish to come to the United States to attend our conferences, or for other legitimate purposes. What we can do is to indicate our rejection of the underlying bigotry, Islamophobia and intolerance that this Executive Order represents, and we hope to do so in a formal manner at our upcoming conference in Honolulu.
In the meantime, if your paper has been accepted for presentation at the upcoming conference in Honolulu and you believe you will be impacted by this Executive Order, please contact us to consider alternatives for including you in our conference.
In solidarity and peace,
The ISLS Board of Directors