Sunday, January 8, 2017

RIP Nat Hentoff: He Exposed the Shame of the American Library Association

RIP Nat Hentoff.  He is a "[r]enowned anti-censorship authorit[y]."
Below are articles written by Nat Hentoff about the "bizarre" and "shameful" American Library Association [ALA].  In one he revealed he reached out to Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, for his help defending jailed Cuban librarians. Ray Bradbury responded by publicly "plead[ing] with Castro and his government to take their hands off the independent librarians and release all those librarians in prison...."

But ALA would do no such thing.  It's de facto leader, Judith Krug of the "Office for Intellectual Freedom" [ALA OIF], "said at an ALA meeting about supporters of the caged librarians, 'I've dug in my heels ... I refuse to be governed by people with an agenda.' The Cuba issue, she continued, 'wouldn't die,' though she'd like to 'drown it.'"  It's why Nat Hentoff said ALA should be ashamed.

Yet just the day before Nat Hentoff died, ALA OIF published a blog post:
This blog post touts "Operation 451" that is specifically named in honor of Ray Bradbury who authored Fahrenheit 451.

So ALA OIF ignores Ray Bradbury when it comes to his call to free jailed Cuban librarians, but uses Ray Bradbury to falsely promote itself and its false claims of "age" discrimination (that's the 5 in "Operation 451") and "censorship" or "book banning" for keeping kids from inappropriate material.

"Operation 451" is written by two vitriolic librarians who work for ALA OIF here and there.  Sarah Houghton is ALA OIF's library filtering expert who lies about filters not working, whereas the FCC's Lisa Hone said filters work well and libraries should reconsider opposition to them, and Carla Hayden testified before Congress to become Librarian of Congress and said filters work well and libraries should block Internet pornography.

Sarah Houghton also lied about a male librarian being a "sexual predator."  The two other members of "#TeamHarpy" who all faked sexual harassment claims apologized for the lies but only after about a year and a half and only after the destruction of the man's career.

Sarah Houghton, however, has never apologized.  That would damage her perceived credibility as a library filtering expert for ALA OIF.  Instead, ALA OIF is now touting her "Operation 451" effort in its blog post—even where it totally went against the wishes of Ray Bradbury vis-à-vis the jailed Cuban librarians and true censorship.

Andy Woodworth is the other librarian who works directly with ALA OIF.  He helped ALA OIF to mislead teachers and parents by way of the "Banned Books Week" hoax.  His previous contribution before this latest "Operation 451" hoax is to guide librarians on how to defeat parents trying to keep children from reading inappropriately sexualized material.  Advice includes, "simply pacify the opposition until the campaign is over," "get them to quiet down or get out of the way," use "a diversion and delay technique,""[s]imply bury their claim in great stories...."  He adds, specifically with respect to people complaining about Internet pornography in libraries despite the law, "The last technique you can use is to simply ignore them.  ....  One thing that you should never do is openly debate, criticize, or demean the person bringing up the lie."

So Sarah Houghton and Andy Woodworth, both major players in ALA OIF's misleading of parents and teachers, are used to promote "Operation 451" in honor of Ray Bradbury.  But ALA OIF ignored Ray Bradbury when he called for Cuba to release jailed Cuban librarians and stop its censorship.

You see, ALA OIF is concerned about the "censorship" of parents parenting and teachers teaching, but not real censorship.  Real censorship is of no concern to them.  And they use Ray Bradbury's name to promote themselves, via two librarians who actively work to mislead as many people as possible, including one would destroyed a man's career with false claims of sexual harassment.

So with the passing of Nat Hentoff goes the memory of just how shameful is ALA OIF, and I didn't want that to happen.  Since ALA controls via bullying/peer pressure so many public libraries and school libraries, people should know they are being intentionally misled by people who abuse Ray Bradbury's memory to promote themselves and their efforts to spread harm as far and as wide as people will allow out of ignorance of ALA OIF's true intentions and actions.  ALA ignored Ray Bradbury in the past on real censorship issues, so using his memory now to promote false "censorship" issues is truly grotesque.  ALA really is just as "bizarre" and "shameful" as Nat Hentoff says it is.

Stay tuned as I write about ALA's facilitation of child pornography in public libraries and how, after I and a few others caught them at it, ALA has dug in its heels and made the problem worse by, among other things, moving to destroy evidence of its child porn facilitation.

Here are my favorite Nat Hentoff stories about the American Library Association:
In April 2003, the security police of Fidel Castro arrested and imprisoned 75 journalists, members of opposition parties and owners of independent libraries. The charge: “crimes against national sovereignty.” The librarians had been making available to Cubans books that were banned in the state’s libraries for containing “terrorist” material. Among them were a biography of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (a document for all human beings).
During the one-day trial, Castro’s judges ordered that all printed volumes confiscated during the raids of the libraries be burned. I obtained copies of those incendiary court rulings that then, and now, characterize the Cuban “revolution.” Immediately, Amnesty International designated all the 75 inmates “prisoners of conscience.” There continues to be more of them — some, as always, in dire need of medical attention they have yet to receive.
At first, I had expected immediate protests about the caged independent librarians from the American Library Association. The core credo of this largest national library association in the world has been “the freedom to read” — for everyone everywhere.
Why should you care? Because banning books and imprisoning librarians mean banning literature, ideas — thought — and critically wounding freedoms that should be as essential as oxygen to citizens and a society.
In the many columns I’ve written since about the abandoned Cuban librarians, I’ve cited the ALA’s refusal to demand the release of these librarians. In June 2003, for one of many examples, Michael Dowling, then director of the ALA’s International Relations Office, said: “There has been no definitive evidence that books are banned and librarians harassed.” There had been international press on the raids.
As my documented stories on these and future imprisonments went on, I was targeted by the director of Cuba’s National Library, Eliades Acosta: “What does Mr. Hentoff know of the real Cuba?”
My public reply: “I know that if I were a Cuban, I’d be in prison.”
Polish and Latvian library associations did call for the release of the prisoners of conscience. But in 2005, the state library association of Cuba stingingly replied to the Latvian protest resolution: “it is too late … to attempt to trick the world in this manner.”
The ALA, annoyed by the continued criticism, occasionally expressed “deep concern” about the allegations but declined to mention the silenced freedom-to-read librarians in Castroland.
Also, in 1995, as a longtime admirer of Ray Bradbury, including his classic novel of censorship by fire, Fahrenheit 451, I sent him some of my columns and the burning Castro court rulings that Bradbury’s novel had prophesied. Publicly, Bradbury then said:
I plead with Castro and his government to take their hands off the independent librarians and release all those librarians in prison, and to send them back into Cuban culture to inform the people.
No comment from Fidel or the ALA. Last year, on May 19, the Mario Chanes de Armas Independent Library was raided by Cuban State Security police, who confiscated 360 books I do not know the whereabouts of the director of that purified library, who had telephoned this news under the regime of Raul Castro.
But, in yet another appeal to the ALA on March 11 last year, the American-based Friends of Cuban Libraries sent a letter to then-president of the ALA Camila Alire, “asking for your urgent and compassionate aid in saving the life of a fellow library worker, Guillermo Farinas (director of the Dr. Roberto Avalos library).
“Mr. Farinas has refused to consume food or fluids since he began a hunger strike” at his home in Santa Clara for the release of 26 Cuban prisoners in poor health, including “Ricardo Gonzalez, the director of the Jorge Manach Library, and Ariel Sigler Amaya, who was condemned to a long prison term for, among other alleged crimes, gathering books for a library collection.” Both have been named prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International.
As for this hunger striker, Guillermo Farinas, he “is growing weaker, and Cuba’s official newspaper Granma has indicated that the government will make no effort to save his life after his health declines to the point of unconsciousness.”
Therefore, “on an urgent basis, we ask you to please contact the Cuban Minister of Foreign Relations, Mr. Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, to request that efforts be made to save the life of Guillermo Farinas. The e-mail address of the Foreign Ministry is: cubaminrex@minrex.gov.cu.”
The Parliament of the European Union recently passed a resolution expressing concern for Mr. Farinas: “We hope the American Library Association will rapidly join the worldwide effort to help in saving his life.”
This plea for the life of Guillermo Farinas was ignored by the American Library Association.
Next week: What happened to the acute discomfort of the Castro government and the American Library Association after — on Oct. 1, 2010, the BBC reported: “The European Parliament has awarded the Sakharov human rights prize to Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas. In July, Mr. Farinas, 48, ended a hunger strike after Cuba’s communist government announced it was freeing 52 political prisoners.” (But the EU and Farinas are aware that more remain in the Castros’ prisons and that the raids on independent libraries continue.)
The prize is named after the late, brave Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov. Those who nominated Farinas called him “a beacon of hope for dozens of journalists and activists who are currently in prison.”
And the prizewinner dedicated the human-rights award to the people of Cuba. He said they struggle for “an end to the dictatorship.”
The people of Cuba should be reminded that on April 26, 2005, Canek Sanchez Guevara — the grandson of the murderous Che Guevara, still a hero to Fidelists around the world and in the United States — spoke in Stockholm of “the obsession (in Cuba) with surveillance, control, repression, etc. And freedom is something entirely different.”
The American Library Association should invite Che Guevara’s grandson to address one of its conferences to enlighten its governing council on how to end its obsession with ignoring the persistently persecuted Cuban independent librarians.

The American Library Association - the largest organization of librarians in the world - continually declares that it fights for everyone's "Freedom to Read!" and its Library Bill of Rights requires its members to "challenge censorship." Yet the leadership of the ALA - not the rank and file - insistently refuses to call for the immediate release of the independent librarians in Cuba - designated as "prisoners of conscience" by Amnesty International. They are serving very long prison terms because they do believe in the freedom to read - especially in a dictatorship.
Among the many organizations demanding that Fidel Castro and his successors release these courageous Cubans - who have opened their homes and libraries to offer books censored in the Cuban state libraries - are such groups as the library associations of the Czech Republic, Latvia, Estonia and Poland. All these librarians, finally freed from Communism, agree with their colleagues in the Polish Library Association, who say in their declaration, "The actions of the Cuban authorities relate to the worst traditions of repressing the freedom of thought and expression."
Also calling for the liberation of Castro's many prisoners of conscience, including the librarians, are the Organization of American States, Amnesty International and Freedom House.
However, the top officials of the American Library Association - as well as the majority of its Governing Council - speak derisively of these "so-called librarians" in Castro's gulags.
It's true that these prisoners, many brutalized and in failing health, in their cells, don't have master's degrees in Library Science; but as poet-novelist-educator Andrei Codrescu told last year's ALA Midwinter Conference: "These people have been imprisoned for BEING librarians!" Why dismiss them "as 'so-called librarians' when clearly there is no one (in that dictatorship) to certify them."
So bizarre is the ALA leadership, along with a cadre of Castro admirers on the Governing Council - in its abandonment of their fellow librarians - it refuses to post on its "Book Burning in the 21st Century" Web site the extensive, documented court transcripts of the "trials" that sent the librarians to prison. Those judges ordered the "incineration" of the prisoners' libraries, including works by Martin Luther King Jr. and George Orwell's "Animal Farm."
But these sentencing documents are verified on the Web sites of Amnesty International, the organization of American States, and Florida State University's Center for the Advancement of Human Rights. Officials of the ALA - conjuring up a fake conspiracy by the Bush administration to overthrow Castro by using the independent librarians - disdain this verification of the book burnings. They insist, for example, that the Florida State University Web site is funded by grants from the U.S. government.
Yet, that Rule of Law and Cuba Web site project doesn't get a dime from the U.S. government. Says director Mark Schlakman: "We place a premium on our independence."
Recently, I left a long, non-adversarial, detailed message for the president of the ALA, Leslie Burger, director of the Princeton, N.J., public library. I asked for her reasons and the ALA's for this refusal of support for the imprisoned librarians. (Some are in cage-like enclosures.) I have received no response from her; but, indicating she will not speak to me, Michael Dowling, director of ALA's International Relations Office, fielded my call by referring me to the ALA's 2004 expression of "deep concern" for Castro's prisoners, which carefully omitted any mention of the independent librarians among them.
But, acting out of "a moral obligation," the small Vermillion, S.D., public library has made the independent Dulce Maria Loynaz Library in Havana a sister library - sending books to it, including a collection of freedom writer Mark Twain. (Other libraries and readers around the world send books to the independent libraries.)
As for rank-and-file American librarians: In January 2006, American Libraries Direct - an online newsletter of the ALA's own magazine, American Libraries - published a poll of its members in which 70 percent answered "Yes" to the question: "Should ALA Council pass a resolution condemning the Cuban government for its imprisonment of dissident 'independent librarians'?"
A key ALA official, Judith Krug, heads its office of Intellectual Freedom. In my many years of reporting on the ALA's sterling record of protecting American librarians from censorship, I often quoted her in admiration. But now, she said at an ALA meeting about supporters of the caged librarians, "I've dug in my heels ... I refuse to be governed by people with an agenda." The Cuba issue, she continued, "wouldn't die," though she'd like to "drown it."
The agenda, Ms. Krug, is freedom. "Every burned book," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, "illuminates the world." But ALA's leadership refuses to bring light to the cages of these Cuban prisoners of conscience. The ALA's membership booklet proclaims "the public's right (everywhere) to explore in their libraries many points of view on all questions and issues facing them."
An issue facing all members of the ALA is their leaders' shameful exception of the Cuban people's freedom to read.
RIP, Nat Hentoff.


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