Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Librarians upset at Laura Bush's talk

Michelle Malkin looks at how members of the American Library Association are upset that Laura Bush is going to speak at their annual convention this year. For example, councilor-at-large Mark Rosenzweig of the ALA sent out an email saying,
"Mrs. Bush is anachronistically called the 'First Lady,' with the fake gentility which is the hallmark of our provincial cult of the Presidency, but what she is, in [political] fact, regardless of her surfeit of -- to me -- rather cloying charm and her much publicized attachment to libraries as the no-political-downside way of demonstrating Bush Administration largesse, is the First Supporter of President Bush and one his most valuable public relations assets . . . she supports virtually every policy of her husband's administration -- tax cuts for the rich, the destruction of social security and Medicare, the privatization of public lands, the hand-outs to corporations, the support for the plundering by Big Oil, the covering for the abuses of the [pharmaceutical] industry, the invasion and occupation of Iraq (and the lies that were told to enable it), the blockade of Cuba and the threats to Latin America, the nuclear sabre-rattling, the USA Patriot Act, covert domestic surveillance, the attacks on the Bill of Rights and the entire Constitution, the flaunting of international law, and, let's not forget, 'Gitmo' and Abu Ghraib and Haditha.
Rosenzweig tells librarians that any applause for Laura Bush would be applause for Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld.

Of course the ALA would prefer their usual line of speaker,
As David Durant, a conservative librarian at East Carolina University, wrote in a whistle-blowing piece on the radicalized ALA last year: "[I]n the wake of 9/11 and the war in Iraq, librarianship as a profession no longer simply leans to the left; it has become openly politicized. By 2004, to work in a major American public or academic library was to find yourself in a left-wing echo chamber." Popular speakers at past ALA conferences have included: Bush-bashers Richard Clarke, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Gloria Steinem, and E.L. Doctorow. A featured benefit screening of Michael Moore's conspiracy-mongering "Fahrenheit 9/11" drew a capacity crowd of more than 2,000, Durant noted. Dissenters are mocked on ALA mailing lists and conference events.
Remember that these are librarians - not necessarily a political position. These librarians are all eager to take a stand bashing Bush whenever possible, but they have not been so willing to stand up for other librarians. This is the same organization that refused to pass a resolution condemning Fidel Castro for jailing librarians. Nat Hentoff wrote in 2004,
Karen Schneider, a member of the governing council, proposed an amendment to the section of the final report on the proceedings of the mid-winter meeting that concerned Castro's imprisonment of the librarians along with 65 other independent journalists and human rights workers. She said, "In calling for the release of the people arrested in [Castro's] March 2003 crackdown, we join Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, President Jimmy Carter, journalist Nat Hentoff (recipient of the 1983 ALA Immroth [Intellectual Freedom] award), and other organizations and individuals who champion free speech everywhere."

In her amendment, Karen Schneider emphasized that demanding Castro free these prisoners of conscience "is consistent with ALA policies, including ALA Policy 58.8, which affirms our support for Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression[,]' . . . and especially [ALA Policy] 58.1 (2) . . . to 'support human rights and intellectual freedom worldwide.' " (Emphasis added.)

And this is how the vote went down on Schneider's amendment to free the prisoners, some of whom are of an age that makes it likely that, unless liberated, they will die in the gulag for the crime of thinking and acting as free individuals in a dictatorship.

Karen Schneider's amendment was overwhelmingly voted down by the 182-member ALA council. Only about five hands were raised to support it. Next week, I will report on praise from a high Cuban official for the ALA's rejection of the Schneider amendment.

So much for the ALA leadership's devotion to "free speech everywhere."
Think of that. The ALA leadership refused to take a stand supporting imprisoned librarians because the jailer was Fidel Castro. Nat Hentoff had been honored by the ALA for his writings on freedom of speech, but now he does not want their honor.
I now publicly renounce the Immroth Award and demand that the American Library Association remove me from the list of recipients of that honor. To me, it is no longer an honor. Someone I know in the ALA, who was at the San Diego meeting, explained to me that some members of the council whispered privately that they agreed with the amendment calling for freeing the librarians but had to vote it down because they didn't want to be vilified as being "on the wrong team." They have put themselves in their own prison.
That is when you know an organization has been corrupted by ideology, when they will turn their backs on their own principles in order not to make a dictator like Fidel Castro look bad.