Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Long Live the Revolution

It looks like the Cuban librarian (or "librarian," depending on your point of view) issue is rearing its shaggy head again. Just after I wrote that the regressive librarians are keeping quiet just now, I stumbled onto a blog post engaging the issue from the regressive side while somehow also claiming that the regressive position is the "middle" position. I guess all groups see themselves as the ideological center of the universe, with those other people on the extremes. It's hard to believe, but here's the relevant quote:
Some of us who have written against Kent’s campaign are lifelong socialists and friendly toward the Cuban revolution. But readers should not conclude from that that any of us deny support to real, homegrown dissidents in Cuba, or deny that more freedom of speech in Cuba would be a good thing, or that there are serious problems in Cuba that are partly the result of failures of Castro’s government. On this side, you will not find anybody avoiding the true complex nature of the question. This side, I argue, IS the middle.
That might be the middle position. I don't know and don't really care, and I particularly stopped caring after the phrase "lifelong socialists and friendly toward the Cuban revolution." I stopped caring because I was laughing too hard. Regressive librarians can protest all they want that Kent is some sort of undercover agent or that the librarians aren't really librarians or whatever the arguments are. It doesn't really matter much, since it should be clear to the ALA Council, which occasionally debates this issue, that Cuba is not in America, and thus isn't relevant to the American Library Association.

And why am I laughing at these regressive librarians when I should instead be annoyed at their hypocrisy? It's just because all American communists and socialists and "friends" of the Cuban revolution are so ridiculous, even more ridiculous now that the Cold War is over. They don't care if there's more freedom of any kind in Cuba. For them, intellectual freedom means the freedom to think like them. They're just the same as the pro-Soviet, anti-American communists during the twentieth century. They love the idea of communism and socialism, as long as long as they don't have to live under it.

I can't help but notice that while millions of people under the boot of communist governments over the past 90 years or so tried to escape (that's right, I said escape), very few people from capitalist democracies have been interested in emigrating to communist countries. Oh sure, during the Cold War the occasional traitorous spy would defect to the Soviet Union rather than face execution or prison in his own country, but it was always the communist countries that had to put up fences to keep people in. One didn't see many Westerners braving machine gun fire to move into East Germany

It's the same today with Cuba, especially since it's one of the few communist countries still livin' the dream now that China has become such a global trading power. While there are plenty of Cuban exiles who have escaped from Castro's prison nation, I've yet to read about any American boat people braving the open sea to seek asylum in Cuba, and I don't think it's just because of the American regulations on traveling to Cuba. After all, what do all these communists and socialists care about the laws of capitalist, evil America? And yet, they sit in their comfortable offices at their comfortable computers and write about how great communism is and get friendly with the Revolution. They don't have to worry about their government imprisoning them because they criticize the state or write a blog post poking fun of its leader, if they're even allowed to write blogs.

No free press. No free Internet. No intellectual freedom. No freedom to travel. No freedom to criticize the government. No free elections. No peaceful means of changing regimes. No representation in government. These are the sorts of things one gets with governments like Cuba. Merely to say "that there are serious problems in Cuba that are partly the result of failures of Castro’s government" is to demonstrate that one prefers the dream of (a safely distant) communism to freedom in the lives of individual people. The sham concern with freedom isn't fooling anyone. That's one reason this issue keeps coming up, because no one but a fool would believe that the main motivation to fight Kent and others has anything to do with a concern for complex truths or the niceties of who gets to be called a librarian. The unfoolish all know that it's just this bizarre communist love affair with Castro and the Revolution(!).

Regressive librarians, you may certainly continue to make your arguments and write blogs and emails. After all, you have the benefit of being in a free country that allows for intellectual freedom. But if you want to look less ridiculous and hypocritical, you'll just come out and say you love Castro and the idea of communist revolution and don't care at all about intellectual freedom in Cuba or anywhere else. Who do you think you're fooling?


Minks said...

I have always said,, if they like *insert location here* so much, maybe they should just move there.

Of course that is a superficial statement if you want to get nit-picky about it. For example: I love the UK health system. It is better then ours in every way I have ever seen (yes, I lived there). That does not mean I want to live there again.

I just re-read my post... I think I owe everyone 3 minutes of their life back. =P Not sure what my point was.

Anonymous said...

Any one who thinks they're in the middle is just giving everyone else the middle finger.

Anonymous said...


Much as I enjoy your blog, your rant about regressive librarians is getting more than a bit tiresome, especially since you seem to lump all socialists together (from Swedes to Canadians to Soviets, etc.). Not only that, you throw in Communists as if they're all the same. Would you list Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Neocons, and Greens all under a single umbrella of capitalism? Didn't think so. Lumping differing leftist ideologies together is a similar kind of error. To put it bluntly, being pro-socialist does not necessarily mean the same thing as being pro-Soviet by any stretch of the imagination. Perhaps certain individuals suffer from a deficit of imagination when it comes to socialism, but this need not be applied to all socialists (as you seem to do).

While you do bring up some very good points about the violence of Soviet regimes and the freedoms of the American-capitalist system, you also ignore (or gloss over) some of the very real consequences of this capitalist system - vast global economic inequality, an almost perpetual state of war somewhere in the world, an overabundance of pollution in poor countries, etc. To be against the negative aspects of capitalism does not seem to be a bad idea to me, and that's part of what socialism is about. What you seem to missing is this: socialism need not be against all aspects of capitalist systems. Hmmm.... Perhaps it does in the case of the regressive librarians, but again, it need not be the case for all socialists.

Has it ever occurred to you that the Soviet socialisms to which you are referring are an actual perversion of political system discussed by Marx & Engels? Marx and Engels were products of the Enlightenment that emphasized the individual, and the totalitarian regimes reject that very concept. Essentially, what you call "socialism and communism" is really another name for totalitarian repression with a socialist front. Please stop confusing the two.

For that matter, the current monopoly capitalism we experience here in the U.S. is a perversion of capitalism in its original conception. The real competition of capitalism exists only until companies gain enough power to skew the economic rules in their favor. Sound familiar? For a primary source, check out Adam Smith or the current issue of The Wall Street Journal if you don't believe me.

Beyond this and in terms of not wanting to "live under socialism," we actually do live under some type of socialist policies to some extent. Anything that helps support the public good - from welfare to national parks and environmental protection to veterans benefits to funding for education to the regulations that keep our food safe and so forth - is something that leans toward socialism in some way. Many of these programs came into being in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a way of blunting the political influence of socialists. Check your history.

Now, radical capitalists would like to see everything be for sale with no barriers and no public welfare safety nets. It allows for easier exploitation of the populace, or course, and more dollars in their pockets. Does that sound attractive? I think not. As objectionable as the rhetoric of the regressive librarians might be, they might have a point.

Yes, in America you have the freedom to speak your mind as well as the other freedoms described. You also have the "freedom" to starve to death if you can't make a living for yourself and nobody is kind enough to help you. You also have the "freedom" to be left to Katrina's ravages if you don't have the financial assets available to you to escape the path of the oncoming storm. The list of "freedoms" such as these could go on and on, but I need not continue to point out that some of the consequences of the current American-capitalist system simply are unjust.

As above, I do appreciate the negative aspects of the Cuban regime you discuss. The repressive aspects of that government are truly lamentable and do not belong in the 21st century. I'm with you there. To defend the Cuban example as being all-good misses the point of what socialism is trying to accomplish in terms of actual public good. For that matter, I'm not sure we as librarians in our roles as librarians need to be politically active in this regard. As people, perhaps, but as librarians...it's an interesting question that deserves consideration but not necessarily agreement.

Anyway, if you'd really like to look at a more socialist country, try Sweden and its take on the freedoms you mention. It's not perfect either, but it's a far better example of contemporary socialism than Cuba.

Right now, your tirade seems closer to being "Fair and Balanced" rather than any real examination of the issues. It might very well be the case that the regressive librarians annoy you to no end. That much, at least, seems clear. Being annoying may even be part of what constitutes being a regressive librarian for that matter. If that is the case, your rant may well be justified, at least to some extent.

The question I have for you is this: Can you see past your annoyance at their rhetoric to get to the issues about which the regressive librarians are speaking?
Those actual issues (rather than the shape they take in the words of the regressive librarians) might actually coincide with actual values you have as a librarian and as a person.

Think about it. If they do have a point, what does it mean in terms of your beliefs about what we should be doing as a country? The point may not be about Cuba itself, but about the larger issue of the American-capitalist system.

Yes, it's a can of worms, but it just might need to be opened.

For the record, I personally don't want to move anywhere. I want this country to be a better place to live for everyone. Examining our basic values - life, liberty, and the pursuit of property/happiness - closely and then applying that examination to health care might necessitate a change in the current way we do health care in this country. If we have inalienable right to life, for example, do we have the inalienable right to the ground for the possibility of life? In short, if we don't have equal access to the things that make life possible, it could easily be argued that our right to life has been violated.

It's an interesting question, and the answer to it might very well lead in a socialist direction.


Anonymous said...

Oh please, anonymous @12:55pm.

Your ideological rant is boring as heck. AL is at her best when she criticizes the Regressive librarians. The Regressives in the Socialist Responsibility Round Table (SRRT) don't give a @$%#* hoot about intellectual freedom. ALA and the entire "profession" is worse off because of them.

Anonymous said...

It's "interesting" that anything that poses a question or questions received wisdom is considered ideological as well as a rant.

While a very common response to any critique of a "sacred cow," it's not a great argument.

Try again.

Anonymous said...

Ok, let's assume for the sake of argument that librarianship is worse off because of the Regressives in the SRRT. The way the conduct themselves is not a positive image for librarians, maybe they really "don't give a @$%#* hoot about intellectual freedom," etc., etc., etc. Fine.

I am concerned about intellectual freedom, so please don't lump me in with them if the above characterization is the case. My point was that the rant about the Regressives seemed rather myopic, all things considered. Did that come through?

Is there anything beyond the absolutist rhetoric of the Regressives about which librarians should be concerned as librarians, all annoyances aside? If not as librarians, what about as people?

The answer could easily be no to both questions, but shutting down an open and persistent examination of the questions seems like a tactic the Regressives might pursue if the above characterization is true, right? Wouldn't that be a bad thing?

Just curious.

Anonymous said...

"... and thus isn't relevant to the American Library Association."

My favorite line in the entire post. Thank you AL. Thank you AL. Thank you AL.

Anonymous said...

minks, you owe me more than three minutes.

AL, why don't you write me? I send flowers, leave messages on your answering machine... it's like you don't even love me.

nolajazz said...

oh, knock it off all of you! every one has gotten wrapped up in all the talk about socialism, which i highly doubt was the real point of AL's blog post, and missed the googlepage on regressive librarians.

if i would have been drinking milk, it would have come out my nose! people in my office thought there was something wrong with me - i was laughing so hard!

however, i must question how much time AL has on her hands...it must be summer and she has nothing to do at work! wink, wink, nudge, nudge

Anonymous said...

Hey, anon 12:55, wow, I thought AL's top post was boring, but you really take the prize for this one.

Anonymous said...

Something comparable to the flap about the ALA's stance on Cuban matters went down last year over the AALL's stance on Israeli & Palestinian matters (though on a smaller scale).

Good times.

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Sweden is social democratic, not socialist. A great country for families and living out your dreams because they really do provide their people with a generous safety net. Look at all the stats: infant mortality, education, health care. The US is at the bottom. Check where Sweden is. Nuff said.

What we have in the US is Darwinian capitalism. Quite repellent. The Swedes combine the best of capitalism and socialism. Quite pragmatic--and dare I say, humane!
We have a lot to learn. A lot. The US is quite barbaric compared to other systems. We are young and immature. We need to grow up.

Anonymous said...

How come we are just concerned with what Cuba is doing with libraries?

What about China?

Ooops, they are tied to US too much financially to be really concerned with.

We only care about human rights in countries that don't supply Wal*Mart with $3.97 tube socks.

Kristen said...

The AL's description of socialism is actually dead-on. As a parallel slash illustration of the myopia on the other side by the Regressives. Which is the point of the post.

Brent said...

Long live the idea of people giving rights to the government, and not the other way around! Didn't Castro give every Cuban a rice cooker? I mean, that is progress if you ask me.

DearReader said...

I was irritated to see a link to this blog post (not the AL's, the original one that AL is blogging about) on the headlines that American Libraries e-mails every week. If they needed to refer to this Cuba issue at all, I would have preferred a link to a more neutral post.

Tim Reynolds said...

I have an easy solution to this. We will do what librarians do best, form the C.LI.E.A or Cuban Librarians in Exile Association. Its just what library land needs a new organization, and we can all publish nifty ideological arguments in the new journal. This would be great for people like me with an undergrad or masters in the social science. We might even be able to get tenure. Its a win win situation. Down with Castro up with with cushy jobs.

Anonymous said...

John Derbyshire is right: “Wherever there is a jackboot stomping on a human face there will be a well-heeled Western liberal to explain that the face does, after all, enjoy free health care and 100 percent literacy.

Anonymous said...

John Derbyshire is an idiot.

Anonymous said...

People catching feelings... I have no sympathy for the Cuban government, maybe because I'm too young to remember its promise in the early days, the excitement at the overthrow of a brutal and corrupt government backed by the USA. Ah well. That didn't last long, did it? I do have some sympathy for socialism, though, at least as it's applied to medicine, transportation, food, arts funding etc. -- places where the "magic" of the marketplace tends to work against human/community values. There's no reason we can't use the good parts of socialism and keep freedom of speech/ movement/ association. Instead we have socialism for the wealthy and well-connected, and market discipline for the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I am sorry I was born in the USA. Let's all kill ourselves to save the world.

Andor Noman said...

PLG Delenda Est.
they will never cease.

Anonymous said...

One thing to add to a previous comment. In the US, we have welfare for the corporations and cake for the little people.

When is someone gonna "bail me out" or give me a "tax break" when some predatory credit card company is after me for unpaid bills?

Anonymous said...

Thank you AL for this marvelous post about the regressives and their influences which have negatively affected the profession. I knew Kathleen De La Pena McCook when she was plain old Kathy Heim without her Ph.D. She spent so much time on what you call regressive issues, her academic advisors were concerned she would not achieve her doctoral status. After experiencing the last 30 years of ALA nonsense activism and the insistance that all political issues are library issues championed by McCook and the SRRT, I quit the profession. I wish your voice had surfaced years ago, with martini raised in defiance against the regressives!

Delia said...

Gee, Anonymous 1204 AM, what a thoughtful, well-articulated statement! I've long noticed that liberals sink to ad hominem agruments when logic fails.

SafeLibraries® said...

AL, you hit the nail on the head. On that blog you link and discuss in this post, you see I made a comment and ALA Councilor Mark Rosenzwieg attacked me. I responded. My post appeared online for all the public to see. Rory Litwin then removed my post. The free speech advocate removed my post. The Cuban intellectual freedom expert cut out my intellectual freedom, and he sent me an email:


I'm blocking your comments from this point forward because you are an idiot, and debating you publicly is pointless and a waste of time. You don't understand a rational argument and don't know how to make one. I don't want to waste my readers' time with your nonsense.

This is a permanent policy. Don't bother commenting and don't bother writing back - I'll just ignore you.

Rory Litwin
Library Juice Press
PO Box 3320
Duluth, MN 55803

"Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries." - Ann Herbert

To read more about this outrage and see just how wrong Mr. Litwin is, see "Censorship Love Note by ALA Councilor Rory Litwin" and the fourth comment to ALA Resolution on Cuba."

Walter Skold congratulated Rory Litwin on not censoring anyone. So Litwin's censorship was so effective that people do not even know ALA Councilor Rory Litwin is himself censorious and has indeed censored people on the Cuban librarian issue.

The ease and comfort with which ALA Councilors suppress freedom of speech and intellectual freedom is truly shocking. Though it is in line with the same actions by the so-called "Office for Intellectual Freedom."

Anonymous said...

Moral of the story, pay your bills and read the fine print.

"Evil" Corporations do that all the time.

You just may never know just what you agreed to, to get that bit of "free" software on-line.

Anonymous said...

Cuba's neighbors, Guatemala, El Salvador, Haiti, to name a few, have been always good at silencing dissidents - usually by death rather than imprisonment - yet Washington seems to get much more excercised about repression from the left than from the right.

Anonymous said...

A friend told me to check here to clarify misinformation posted about Philip's death.
My first husband, Philip Heim, passed away.
When I remarried 18 years ago I began using my mother's name
(de la Pena) plus my second husband's name, "McCook."

Anonymous said...

Dear "distinguished" professor McCook,

Who cares about your name? You have completely missed the point of this entire discussion, but that's to be expected I guess.

Anonymous said...


I have been checking for new posts from you with less frequency and/or enthusiasm recently. They have been tending towards predictable and tedious, certainly not up to your usual standard. Albeit a few days late, I stopped in for a quick visit and was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Well done! That must have been one exceptional martini. I know that you have been holding your breath and will be ecstatic to know that you are officially restored to the exalted –and much coveted- position of “My Favorite Blogger”.

Oh, and before I forget, just where might one sign up for the RLG and, by which wall shall I find you?

J B Schallan said...

Has the ALA taken an official position yet on string theory? Cosmology is something of importance, a concern in which librarians SHOULD be deeply involved.

Anonymous said...

String is Soooooo library 1.0.

Librarians should be embracing the tape technology of library 2.0.

Anonymous said...

If you want censorship, history provides plenty of models on the left and the right.

Personally, with an hourly job and no health care, I'd love a little "socialism" right now.

Anonymous said...

They say you want a revolution.....

Anonymous said...

Oh, ALA is a big bad evil organization.

I can barely have my employer send me there so I can suck down martinis and be one of the beautiful people.

See you AL when you get home and sober up.

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Fat drunk and stupid.

Kind of describes most 1.0 libraries.

Anonymous said...

Cuba is not in America, and thus isn't relevant to the American Library Association.


America is not just the United States.


Anonymous said...

The United States is the only part of America that counts.

Anonymous said...

Is there a survey linking librarians and their religious affiliations?

Anonymous said...

Any good librarian is an agnostic.

If you have strong beliefs then you will not be able to catalog, do reference work, or any other library work fairly -- you will be bringing in too much bias into the equation.

Anonymous said...

"Cuba is not in America, and thus isn't relevant to the American Library Association."

I would have agreed with that until a few minutes ago when I looked at ALA's website. ALA has a charter that was written in 1876 and revised in 1942. One revision in the latter date was to change a a key phrase. A sentence that originally indicated ALA had "the purpose of promoting the library interests of the country" was changed to "the purpose of promoting library interests throughout the world" -- note that it doesn't say "of the world." But it did remove the focus on just this country.

That being said, I liked AL's blog entry on this one.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I am not a librarian. I just happen to run in the same circles as a few, but coincidentally, I've encountered many a conversation like this in my professional life. Every time that it has, I try to find the fastest exit before I listen to another soapbox sermon on the evils of corporate America. Alcohol is usually somehow involved in the equation.

First off, the AL is 100% correct. Last time I checked, it was called the American Library Association. Simultaneously, "American" tends to refer to citizens of the United States, because "United Statesian" just didn't sound right. I suppose in some abstract sense Canadians, Mexicans or hell, Cubans are Americans. However, let's all come to terms with the fact that "American" is widely used to solely denote citizens of the United States. Thanks.

Thus, the ALA (and other unholy acronym-hugging, rhetoric spewing professional organizations) would be wise to contain their sphere of non-library (or whatever they may represent) related issues to those issues solely dealing with their namesake's country.

Now, as for the Marxist that posted way above - did it ever occur to you that Marx and Engels can NEVER be implemented successfully? Also, ever consider that Marxist philosophy shares a Hegelian belief in man's sole duty being to society? Guess what that means...socialism and totalitarianism actually have quite a bit in common. That's why it's called the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Oh well, at least I can share a mutual grip with the library community.

Anonymous said...

Cuba's neighbors, Guatemala, El Salvador, Haiti, to name a few, have been always good at silencing dissidents - usually by death rather than imprisonment - yet Washington seems to get much more excercised about repression from the left than from the right.

The civil war in Guatemala was concluded with a formal armistice in 1996 (though the insurgency had been largely defeated by the close of 1984). The armistice in El Salvador was concluded in 1992. The former country has had an elected government since 1986 and the latter since 1982. Both countries face severe and endemic social problems (among them rampant street crime), but it has been some years since systematic political repression was characteristic of either locale. One might also note that the situation with regard to 'human rights' in El Salvador was a matter of continuous controversy in Washington for 13 years and American aid to Guatemala was suspended for eight years (1978-85). One might suggest that officialdom was more exercised by Communist goverments in part because these had unsavory external associations (with the Soviet Union, for example). Raison d'etat is certainly a proper consideration in making policy.

Anonymous said...

I responded. My post appeared online for all the public to see. Rory Litwin then removed my post. The free speech advocate removed my post.

I was, a couple of years back, banned for a time from commenting on his site for raising a civil objection to one of his posts. Thomas Sowell has offered that a certain sort of political sectary is quite consumed with the effort to think well of himself. I have had occasion to wonder...

Anonymous said...

If Mark made a sharp turn without signaling, Roy's nose would be broken

Tim Reynolds said...

As a recent professional member of ALA I must say I joined for two reasons. First to advance myself. Second, to become more knowledgeable about library operations so I can be more useful. I did not join to advance a few zealots ideas.

Lets be honest, if the ALA meant to be international in scope, there would be more columns, in its professional journals, written by Canadians and Latin Americans, dealing with their issues. The only articles before the Cuban article; I have seen recently covering any international issues are the ones covering the Vancouver Strike. The only article written dealing with Latin American Issues was on how to serve Latin Americans in the United States. It was really only focused on Mexican immigrants.

As you can see its a question of perception, planning and reality not matching. If you are interested in dealing with international issues why not try The International Federation of Library Associations at http://www.ifla.org/ I know I have thought about it myself.

Anonymous said...

Advance yourself via ALA?

Better to take your money out and pound it down a rat hole and then go on the Internets for free to edumacate yourself.


ALA is a dead organization.

SafeLibraries® said...

"ALA is a dead organization."

Perhaps, as far as being an association of American librarians goes, but it's Office for Intellectual Freedom is very effective nationwide in convincing people to allow an anything goes attitude in public libraries. Sometimes that even extends to terrorist activities, but I'll leave that for another forum.

Consider the latest news from Howard County, MD. "Glen Goldberg came to read a letter from his 17-year-old son Dylan, who said he has seen people viewing pornography at the East Columbia Library. Library director Valerie Gross said her staff investigated the complaints thoroughly but could not substantiate them."

In other words, the library called the kid a liar. And what a coincidence, the library claims "The Library is unable to monitor or control the content of the materials on the Internet, which changes rapidly and unpredictably." If that doesn't sound like a community fooled by and a library intentionally following the ALA's OIF's own propaganda, I'll eat my hat.

That is just the latest example of how effective the ALA is, just not in ways that one would expect given the organization's former status as one that cares about American libraries and librarians and America's children. No longer does that apply.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter anymore.

This is a dead blog.



Anonymous said...

This blog has become an old tavern for alcoholics to hang their heads in their beers while bitching and moaning about their pet causes: from Kent's (K)uban nonsense to the ALA's malevolent plan on turning children into amoral monsters to the occasional meandering of the socialist's dream of utopian days, a time in the future when humanity will finally perfect itself. It's like the guy in the song Glory Days who is boring Springsteen with boring stories.

Anonymous said...

This blog has become an old tavern for alcoholics to hang their heads in their beers while bitching and moaning about their pet causes: from Kent's (K)uban nonsense to the ALA's malevolent plan on turning children into amoral monsters to the occasional meandering of the socialist's dream of utopian days, a time in the future when humanity will finally perfect itself. It's like the guy in the song Glory Days who is boring Springsteen with boring stories.


nominee for boring comment of the year.

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...


nominee for boring comment of the year.


Nominee for most trite critique of a comment of the year.

Nominee for the snarkiest comment of the year.

Anonymous said...

John Derbyshire is still an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Art Deoo said
One might suggest that officialdom was more exercised by Communist governments in part because these had unsavory external associations (with the Soviet Union, for example). Raison d'etat is certainly a proper consideration in making policy.

Well, that has been Washington's excuse while right-wing governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, etc with their paramilitary affiliates were slaughtering thousands of civilians, especially Mayan, Indians, behaving the same way the Soviet Union did under Stalin. The basic reason people were joining the insurgency was the tight grip the local plutocracies had on the economies keeping the poor down. If you read a history of El Salvador, you know that wealthy coffee growers drove peasant farmers off their own land at the turn of the last century. The people joined the "insurgency" to get their own lands back

Anonymous said...

Who really cares?

Anonymous said...

If you do care, stop.

Go back to work and make sure that your employer is getting the full potential of your effort, not some daft ALA committee.

Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @6:18:

Thanks for your input as regard my reading habits.

Post-Communist parties derived from the former insurgent forces are a persistent minority in El Salvador, not the dominant (much less sole) force organizing and mobilizing the country's peasant population. In Guatemala, these parties are marginal to the country's electoral politics.

Civil wars in Guatemala and El Salvador were quite sanguinary, but victims of security services in the one are numbered in six digits and in the latter in five. Joseph Stalin's were numbered in eight digits. After 1922, the Soviet Government was not facing an armed insurgency.

Anonymous said...

Counting numbers: perhaps you would do better to count percentage of population - in this case the US supported Indonesian government would come out as one of the worst in the world - both for its massacre of the left wing within Indonesia & the massacre of the East Timorese.

"Civil wars in Guatemala and El Salvador were quite sanguinary, but victims of security services in the one are numbered in six digits and in the latter in five. Joseph Stalin's were numbered in eight digits. After 1922, the Soviet Government was not facing an armed insurgency."

Brett VanBenschoten said...

Anonymous said...

>>This blog has become an old tavern for alcoholics to hang their heads in their beers...<<

Martinis, you fool. And where are the ALA drinking stories, AL?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 4:43:

If I am not mistaken, the historian Roy Medvedev estimated 20,000,000 deaths in Soviet Runnian as a function of public policy in the years running from 1927 to 1953 at a time when the population was around 150,000,000. How well substantiated that datum is, who knows?

The conventional estimates of the death toll in Indonesia durint the period running from December 1965 to March 1967 run to about 750,000 in a country that had a population of in excess of 100,000,000 at that time. There have long been disputes between students of that particular set of events about the degree of central co-ordination in those events, with one school of thought holding that what occurred was a tsunami of spontaneous local massacres of Indonesian Communist Party members.

In Guatemala, the death toll is commonly put at about 150,000 over a period of time where the general population averaged about 8,000,000.

One might suspect that the Department of State is not issuing reports condemning Gen. Soeharto or Gen. Rios Montt or Joseph Stalin for the same reason: not topical.

The Castro regime has never faced an internal insurgency so does not have a record of the sort of abuses that occur during the course of counter-partisan warfare. There is just one active insurgency in Latin America: it is in Columbia, a country which has (like many others) intractable social problems but whose politics are constitutionalist by default.

Castro's regime is the most retrograde in the hemisphere as regards civic and political liberty, and has been for at least fifteen years. How many of its champions in the ALA's central organs would be willing to concede to local municipal councils the franchise to set community standards for the public library? What is the unconfessed single-standard that lies behind Mark and Rory's double-standard?

Anonymous said...

I don't think libraries or librarians are going to solve these problems. I suspect there are more pressing issues for these countries and their citizens to resolve, and more practical issues for them (and us) to tackle before libraries rise to the fore of really important things to worry about. Ya know, sorry about the disgruntled Cuban librarians, but mega-million deaths ordered by repressive dictatorships are not really a library issue, dontcha think?

OK, fine, pass a resolution. Feel better?

I'm pretty sure Paul Revere didn't frame his ride around, "The British are coming, go to your local library and ask a librarian to look it up for you in critically approved and validated resources not involving google."

I'm also pretty sure George Washington was NOT featured on a Revolution@YourLibrary poster.

Get some perspective, folks.

Anonymous said...

Amen Anonymous.

If I want a stance on an issue, I know where to go and what groups to go to.

If I want unbiased opinion, I will go to my library.

Oops. To many public libraries and public librarians have taken it upon themselves to tell me what I should think.

Mostly by the way they catalog, do reference and the like.

Hey, you there in the bun. If I wanted your opinion I would have asked.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

For me, the critical issues here are human rights -- the rights of real humans sentenced to real prisons for a really long time -- and the character of our professional association's response for a direct appeal for help from a leader of humans endeavoring to exercise their right to read freely.

On June 4, Gisela Delgado Sablón, Director of the Independent Library Project of Cuba, sent an appeal to Michael Dowling, Director of the ALA International Relations Office: “… Sir, I would like to send this message seeking your solidarity with this library project and because of the repression to which we have been subjected. Many Cubans have been arrested because of their manner of thinking and for their promotion of culture within Cuba. … Our library movement was founded with the goal of offering the Cuban people access to uncensored reading beyond the limits imposed by a required ideology. … What we are asking, sir, is that your association show solidarity with our project and with the innocent persons who are now in prison. We would like you to ask the Cuban authorities to immediately release these detained persons.”

The American Library Association did not respond to this appeal for 13 months.

Then, on July 27, 2004 – 417 days after receiving the June 4, 2003 appeal for solidarity from independent library project director Gisela Delgado Sablón – the ALA finally sent its official reply in the form of a letter from the Chair of the ALA International Relations Committee. His letter included a copy of the January 14, 2003 IFC/IRC joint task force Report on Cuba, together with a copy of his letter of the same day to the Cuban Foreign Minister. Instead of a hoped-for statement that would “ask the Cuban authorities to immediately release these detained persons,” the ALA letter to the Foreign Minister concluded, “We thank you very much for your attention and assistance to ensure the health and welfare of these detained individuals.”

As the average sentence imposed upon the library prisoners by the Cuban courts exceeds 18 years of detention, this official response of ALA amounts to “have a nice 18 years in prison.”

SafeLibraries® said...

"We thank you very much for your attention and assistance to ensure the health and welfare of these detained individuals."

Steve, let me clarify something in my own head. The ALA has in the past and may still be saying that the Cuban librarians are a fiction created by the US government to bring change to Cuba (yes, we can). The ALA has opposed these efforts on the grounds that the US has no place in Cuban politics (no, we can't) and the Cuban librarians are fakes, phonies, and frauds. Is this loosely correct?

If that is loosely correct, and if the ALA says "We thank you very much for your attention and assistance to ensure the health and welfare of these detained individuals," then is the ALA playing both sides of the fence by implicitly admitting actual Cuban librarians are actually being "detained"? (Is using the word "detained" a way of saying they are not "jailed"?)