When Allardyce Nicholl, then professor of English at Birmingham University, founded the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1951, he intended from the beginning that it should have an international flavor.  When I was a student there in the late 50’s, there were always some international students in residence—Indians, Yugoslavs, a Greek, and a number of Americans.  The Americans especially would come and go, and one or two of them seemed to be more or less permanently in England at the time.  There was a constant stream of visiting scholars, too.

It never occurred to me to wonder about their status as visitors.  None of them ever seemed to have any difficulty with the authorities, and we would have been very surprised if they had.

Jump over the intervening 50-odd years to 2016, and it seems that things have changed, and not for the better.  The Institute is still welcoming overseas students, but the same cannot be said of the people in charge of comings and goings at the Home Office, when it comes to certain overseas students.

Paul Hamilton, a 42-year-old American student at the Shakespeare Institute, graduated this past July, having been in England as a student for going on nine years.  This may seem like a long time, but Ph.D.’s can take that long.  Besides, Mr. (now Dr.) Hamilton was enjoying himself living in England, studying Shakespeare in Stratford, and—in no time at all, it seems—organizing seminars and conferences.  What is more, he was doing all this at his own expense.

These days, one needs a visa to study in England, so once Hamilton had graduated his student visa became nonoperative.  He applied for permission to remain in the U.K., paying £650 (approximately $1,000) for the application.  He must have heard that his chances of success were not good, because he bought himself a plane ticket home with an open date, and waited.  Nothing then happened until one morning in January there was a knock on his door, he was arrested, and taken off in a paddy wagon, an event that no doubt fascinated his neighbors.  When a writer for Times Higher Education asked him what was the first sign that something had gone wrong with his application, he replied, “When they knocked on my door and told me they were arresting me.”

After ten hours in the local pokey, they drove him six hours across country to the Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre in Lincolnshire, and there he stayed for ten days looking out of a barred window at a fence with barbed wire on it.  He was virtually incommunicado since the computers didn’t work, there was only one dicey fax machine, and they wouldn’t let him use his own computer.  Morton Hall, by the way, is there to house risky types “who require secure conditions.”

News of his arrest began to spread, and the story caught the attention of the press because Dr. Hamilton was working on preparations with colleagues at Kingston University for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death when the Home Office’s minions scooped him up.

Everything is wrong with this affair, but perhaps its weirdest aspect is that his application was turned down because, as the Home Office said in its best officialese, “he did not satisfy the relevant criteria under the immigration rules.”  What are the rules for entering Britain these days?  Dr. Hamilton has a professional qualification provided by a British institution, and he has shown every sign of being capable of supporting himself.  The reason for arresting him was even weirder.  A Home Office notice given to Dr. Hamilton stated that he was detained because “your removal from the United Kingdom is imminent” and “you do not have enough close ties (e.g., family or friends) to make it likely that you will stay in one place.”  Slippery customers, these Shakespeare students.

Did it never occur to the morons in charge of Dr. Hamilton’s file that it would be a good idea to let him know his application had been turned down before issuing the order to arrest him?  They’d had plenty of time.  When the ruling on his application was handed to him at Morton Hall at the end of January it was dated December 9.

It quickly emerged, too, from comments on the blog started by his friends that what happened to him is not all that unusual.  Another former American student at the Shakespeare Institute wrote that, after the Brits rejected his request for an extension of his student visa, they confiscated his six-month-old daughter’s visa, and attached a statement informing her that she was illegally in the country, and was at risk of being arrested and forcibly deported within 30 days from the date of the letter.

So this is not the Britain we used to know.  Are we surprised?

Contemporary Western governments, all of them, are incapable of acting intelligently, whether in the interests of their people or of their friends—such as people like Dr. Hamilton—who only wish them well.  The overriding reason is that they are the captives of simultaneously evil and stupid progressive ideologies that force them to put the interests of their own people and their friends at the bottom of whatever bizarre list of priorities they carry about in their minds.  What is more, they and the people they employ are as stupid as the ideas that motivate them.

What does it mean to say this?  Consider the workings of that immigration policy that threw Dr. Hamilton so unceremoniously into prison.  It is not all that hard to emigrate to Britain.  In 2014 the U.K. population was 13.1-percent foreign-born (8.3 million) and 8.5-percent non-British citizens, a number that has more than doubled since 1993.  So plenty of people are entering.  The problem is with the immigration policies under which they are coming in, and which the Home Office is so keen to enforce.

About half of those immigrants are Muslims, who make up about six percent of the population now, and among the results are no-go areas in cities where police dare not wear their uniforms, and a disproportionately criminal and welfare-dependent population.

These are well-known facts.  Nonetheless, the U.K. political class and its media mouthpieces, bent on enforcing their notions of multicultural diversity, refuse to admit the obvious, let alone discuss it, especially when someone like Donald Trump points it out to them.  In fact, if a Chronicles writer were to make a speech in Rockford pointing out the obvious, and it came to the attention of the British Home Office, he would probably be refused admittance to Britain as a threat to the nation’s moral and political health.

That wholesale political lying has real consequences.  To give the most dramatic example, it is finally emerging that gangs of Muslim rapists have been targeting English girls for years, and getting away with it because the ideologues in government looked the other way, and the police were afraid of being disciplined as Islamophobes.  The numbers are in the thousands, and not just in former industrial cities like Derby, Rochdale, and Rotherham.  Just recently it came out that over the past decade in Oxfordshire, a county slap in the middle of rural England, Muslim gangs had systematically raped and exploited English girls as young as 11 with impunity because the responsible local government agency had refused to pay attention.

Those girls ought to be able to sue the Home Office for allowing people like that into their country, and so causing them grievous bodily harm, but of course under the wonderful principle of sovereign immunity they can do nothing of the kind.

To return to Dr. Hamilton and the Home Office’s desire to be rid of him, there is a paradoxical symbolism in the fact that he is now a credentialed Shakespearean, and that given a choice between Shakespeare and all that he stands for in the English mind and sharia, the people in the Home Office and local government offices all over England are daily choosing the latter.