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April 06, 2004

Hey, But Tell Us What You Really Think!

Mark Rosensweig's latest post, about an "On My Mind" piece I did on Cuba that AL published in its last issue.

I don't mind the swipes at me (and I'm flattered to be compared with Nat Hentoff), but I will say that AL is one of the finest and fairest publications I have ever had the pleasure to write for. Too bad Mark couldn't simply disagree with what I had to say.

Once again, if I'm misled, I'm in great company--with Sandy Berman, Noam Chomsky, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and a host of other people and organizations. I would like to be this mislead more often.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Privileged access to AL by anti-Cubans
Date: Wed, 7 Apr 2004 15:28:53 -0500
From: Mark
Reply-To: iskra@earthlink.net
To: srrtac-l@ala.org, plgnet-l@listproc.sjsu.edu

Dear Friends,

I was angered and dismayed to have opened up the latest American Libraries today to see an "On My MInd' column in there by the omnipresent ALA Councilor, Karen Schneider, about her own putative 'heroism' in 'falling on her sword' over the Cuba issue in Council -- and about Council's having been duped by 'extremists'.

In this latter charge she lines up with all those on the far Right who are claiming that ALA is controlled by a Left-wing cabal, a red conspiracy, something she, in any case, knows very well not to be true, but which she is exploiting.

Schneider's self-aggrandizing fable about her 'falling on her own sword' in Council is obviously a tall tale. Or, rather, if she actually fell on her own sword it was apparently neither too sharp nor too strong, because she's still around to continue blathering away about Cuba ( of which, in my opinion, she knows very little and, in reality, cares even less --except as a means for positioning herself in her on-going 'campaign for the promotion of Karen
Schneider') and is alive and well and performing with even more volubility, smugness and mendacity than ever. Next time, she can borrow MY sword to fall on.

Most troubling is that, apparently dissatisfied with Council's decision himself, the editor of AL, Leonard Kniffel, has decided to turn over the journal to a one-sided attack on Council, on Schneider's opponents there -- all 150 odd of them (?)-- whom he gives her a venue in which to deride them as extremists or dupes.

I didn't think that AL was supposed to take sides in such a disagreement, especially taking sides against the decision of Council. There is something unethical about it, which is an issue I will pursue further with the ALA Executive and ED Keith Fiels (undoubtedly to little effect).

It is fine that Schneider is unwilling to accept that she tried entirely unsuccessfully to get the ALA to bow to the dictates of Robert Kent's Friends of Cuban Libraries ( so unsuccessfully that only herself and one other Councilor voted for her resolution no matter HOW she tried to pitch it) in accepting the specious and absurd claims of the so-called 'independent Cuban librarians' that they were arrested and sentenced for the practice of librarianship and not, as was indeed the case, for paid criminal conspiracy (merely posing as librarians at the stage direction of their American controllers, but that is hardly the central issue) with the US interest section in Havana, and that in a situation in which the US is admittedly organizing, both overtly and covertly --and, certainly, illegally -- for 'regime change' in Cuba (like the regime change it helped effect in Haiti -- restoring Duvalieriste thugs to power -- and is working on in Venezuela and is so ably pursuing in Iraq -- where it's chasing the whirlwind of its 'kill for peace' and 'demolish for democracy' regime-change program with maniacal alacrity and disregard for human rights).

It is fine that Schneider insists that famed anti-abortion-rights editorialist Nat Hentoff --who has been attacking ALA and its officers column after uninteresting syndicated column about his current bete noir , Cuba -- should be appeased so that he will stop the bullying meant precisely to smear ALA's reputation to get it to relent and repent.

But American Libraries should NOT be given over, one-sidedly, to Hentoff and Schneider's crusade against Council and ALA for disagreeing on how to handle the issue of relations with Cuba and, above all, Cuban librarianship

The most irritating and disturbing thing is that AL editor Leonard Kniffel is getting away with giving Schneider's side, Kent & Hentoff et al., carte blanche and has given them yet another opportunity to attack the integrity and intelligence of Council, with Schneider now disingenuously playing this card where, saintly and beleaguered, having lost by a near unanimous vote of a body of malefactors, she pretends to be with the 'little guy' against the big
bad(elected) Council which voted for a balanced and thoughtful report of an IFC/IRRT committee charged to investigate this matter and report back, Schneider representing this as bowing to Castroite extremists, something patently not the case.


I hope you will write to Leonard Kniffel and demand that the other side be given access to the next issue of AL to fully represent its case, that the ALA took a rational, ethical and balanced position in relation to Cuba.

Mark Rosenzweig

Posted by kgs at April 6, 2004 02:46 PM

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"...that the ALA took a rational, ethical and balanced position in relation to Cuba." Nonsense on stilts. Reading this post one would hardly know that Mr Rosenzweig is the head librarian of the Reference Center for Marxist Studies, a branch of the American Communist Party. In short, while he does not admit it, Mr Rosenzweig has a dog in this fight. I suppose that it should not surprise me that Communists, no less than Democrats, Republicans, and members of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, tend to support their political compatriots, and that supporters of political totalitarianism loath supporters of democracy. The ALA's stance on this issue is why I left the organization and will not return until that stance changes. I am proud to be in the same profession as the Cuban librarians, and I wish that the ALA was as well.

Posted by: Peter McGivney at April 6, 2004 04:07 PM

Peter McGivney is correct about why people quit ALA. ALA has become a closed shop intellectually. Rosenzweig and the rest of the band of ALA apologists for totalitarian regimes and terrorist dictators do not tolerate any point of view but their own. A significant number of these people have been elected to ALA Council through concerted, organized effort, as well as onto the key ALA committees whose recommendations and reports, biased by the same anti-U.S. international agendas, are those submitted to Council for an official ALA vote. The result is that this group succeeds in achieving ALA endorsements for positions which turn the values of democracy and U.S. librarianship on their head.

Posted by: Ellen Zyroff at April 7, 2004 03:06 PM

I'd wondered what Mark's back story was...Hard to really defend Castro unless you do have "a dog in this fight". Thanks Peter.

Posted by: Jay Currie at April 9, 2004 05:21 PM

And I presume that proponents of intellectual freedom will likewise be given access to the next issue of the SRRT's publications, or to Library Juice, to "fully represent their case"? If so, perhaps SRRT members and readers might find out that Nat Hentoff is not primarily famous for being an "anti-abortion-rights editorialist".

It seems that the Fidelistas' sense of editorial fair play is as hypocritically skewed as their sense of human rights. Either that, or they consciously consider such concepts to be purely political tools to be used for the gaining of power, a la the Bolsheviks and Josef Stalin, and then discarded when no longer convenient.

There's a very old jokey cliche about arguing the law: "If the law is on your side, pound on the law. If the facts are on your side, pound on the facts. If neither is on your side, pound on the table." Mark Rosenzweig, Ann Sparanese, and the other dictator-loving Fidelistos of the American Library Association's so-called "Social Responsibilities Round Table" have long since passed beyond the first two stages, and are well into the stage of pounding on the table with Nikita Khrushchev's outworn shoe.

I, for one, think so, and I'm a librarian, even though Rosenzweig et al probably don't consider me a "real" one since I'm not employed by the Cuban government or the Center for Marxist Studies.

Posted by: Felix at April 18, 2004 07:20 PM