[Libs-Or] Cuba controversy: Nat Hentoff Renounces Immroth Award
diedrec at charter.net
Sat Jan 31 16:17:30 PST 2004
This is a fairly complex issue that deserves more than a limited look at one perspective. Please remember the full ALA/IRC/IFC report may be found at: http://www.ala.org/ala/iro/iroactivities/alacubanlibraries.htm . Approximately 300 pages of documentation behind the report can also be found here.
Below are some other perspectives on this issue. (by the way, Steven Denney does not like the document approved by ALA Council)
My feeling on this is that if people like Nat Hentoff really felt that an ALA Resolution on Cuba would help the situation of the jailed political dissidents he would have used the ALA Cuba report to the fullest advantage and said something along the lines of "look, the American Library Association has once again upheld its commitment to human rights and intellectual freedom. ALA has shown great concern for the political dissidents who have been imprisoned in Cuba."
Instead he is not using the ALA document to its fullest against the Cuban government but is trying to use it against ALA because the exact words he wanted a resolution to have are not in the document approved by ALA Council.
From: Stephen Denney <sdenney at OCF.Berkeley.EDU>
Date: 2004/01/30 Fri AM 11:23:58 PST
To: ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom List <alaoif at ala1.ala.org>
Subject: [ALAOIF:32609] Another perspective on the ALA Cuba report
The website of the Jose Marti National Library in Cuba includes a publication, Librinsula; issue 3 of Jan. 2004 carries various documents about the ALA adopted report on Cuba. Here are some opinions expressed, from individuals on the other side of the debate from Nat Hentoff.
Note: Felipe Meneses is a librarian from Mexico City whose writings on Cuba are often translated by Dana Lubow and posted to the SRRTAC and PLG lists. ASCUBI is the acronmym for the Cuban Library Assocation.
- Steve Denney
Mark Rosenzweig. Bibliotecario y Concejal de ALA
The dignity of the Cuban people, the Cuban Revolution and Cuban librarianship is affronted by this compromise, 'consensus' document.
My most profound apologies to our friends in ASCUBI . I wish we could have done more justice to the achievements of your members, the gains of the Revolution and the right of self-determination of the Cuban people, especially when the latter is under very sharply escalating attacks by the
Ann Sparanese. Bibliotecaria y Concejal de ALA
Friday, January 16, 2004 9:30 AM
This report, although it is a consensus document and expresses "deep concern over the arrest and long prison terms of political dissidents in Cuba", is *already* being spun as a "tragic" event for ALA by> Robert Kent and the other right-wing pressure, disinformation operatives. I'm sure that Mr. Hentoff (and perhaps Sandy Berman?) will join them at the first opportunity. For these people, *nothing* will be satisfactory except the all-out condemnation of Cuba -- without any criticism or serious analysis of the U.S. laws, specifically the Helms-Burton, which mandates the
provocative interventions by the US government that *actually* put these people in prison!
The report recounts the ambiguities of the situation, while reiterating ALA's commitment to free expression. And most importantly, perhaps, it recounts ALA's *own* activities to investigate the issue and reports that these people may call themselves "librarians," but in conversations with
an ALA delegation said they "did not consider themselves librarians, but described themselves as "political dissidents." "
My opinion about the reason that this happened is the following: the argument that these dissidents were *not* arrested for their books, their "libraries", or even for "writing and speaking freely" but for taking
money and material from the United States for their activities was considered a distinct possibility, if not a proven fact, by the committees. This type of thing is a crime not only in Cuba but in the United States. It is a very problematic situation, and the U.S. is
therefore directly involved in what happened to the dissidents. There was enough recognition that *this* might be what it is all about -- or simply enough *doubt* that this might be what it is all about -- that produced
the decision that calling for the release of anonymous prisoners, who are *not* librarians, would not be warranted. On the other hand, expressing "deep concern" over their plight might be, and so it is there. This is
just *my* analysis.
I give Council a lot of credit for being willing to listen to the collective deliberation of the task force and two committees and not to allow two or three individuals -- or outside pressure -- to destroy the consensus product of that serious deliberation.
We can support that, but the right-wing cannot. The right-wing will *not* be happy, because they have something else in mind. And that is the destruction of the sovereign state of Cuba. They want ALA to sign on to that campaign. Those interested should follow the news about the growing
threats towards Cuba. The Bush administration cannot even wait for Castro to die -- the formulation of the past. They want Cuba NOW.
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 2004 23:23:52 -0600 (CST)
Si bien hay algunas cosas positivas en el documento, estoy, al igual que Mark Rosenzweig, preocupado por el informe de la ALA. Lo he leido y releido una y otra vez, y veo que Kent y sus seguidores (o secuaces) tendran la oportunidad de hacer interpretaciones favorables para continuar
sus ataques inefables contra el trabajo bibliotecario cubano, particularmente contra el que viene desarrollando la Biblioteca Nacional de Cuba, la Red de Bibliotecas Pzblicas de Cuba y la ASCUBI.
No me asombra, pero si me indigna que la ALA, escudandose en la IFLA, intente abrogarse la funcisn que tiene sslo la IFLA/FAIFE en cuanto a hacer "recomendaciones" a una comunidad bibliotecaria de un pams asediado por el gobierno de donde vienen, paradsjicamente, esas recomendaciones.
?Con qui derecho la ALA se inmiscuye no digamos en la autodeterminacisn del pueblo cubano, sino en el trabajo bibliotecario de una nacisn que ha venido siendo oprimida por la Administracisn estadunidense durante mas de
40 aqos? El informe de la ALA presenta, en mi opinisn, un doble discurso, del cual los verdaderos bibliotecarios cubanos tendran que cuidarse, pues el informe tiene "doble filo".
Frases reiterativas como "ALA and IFLA", "ALA supports IFLA", ALA joins IFLA", demuestra lo que he dicho, la ALA se escuda en la IFLA para socavar la dignidad del quehacer bibliotecario cubano. Y en nivel internacional ?quiin es la IFLA? Una asociacisn dirigida principalmente por las
asociaciones bibliotecarias de naciones hegemsnicas y opresoras de los pamses pobres y explotados por siglos.
?Habra en el futuro la necesidad de crear un contrapeso?, es decir, ?habra necesidad de crear una IFLA de naciones pobres para defender la dignidad de las asociaciones de bibliotecarios de pamses no hegemsnicos? incluso
?para defenderse de la IFLA actual? Quizas.
Afortunadamente no todos los bibliotecarios estadounidenses estan de acuerdo con este informe...
[translation, not at the web site:]
If there are some positive things in the document, I am worried by the report, and Mark Rosenzweig shares my concern equally. I have read it and re-read it over and over again, and I see that Kent and his followers (or henchmen) will have an opportunity to make favorable
interpretations which will allow the continuation of their ineffable attacks against the work of Cuban librarians, especially against the work being developed by the National Library of Cuba, the Net of the Public Libraries of Cuba and ASCUBI.
I'm not surprised, but I am indignant that the ALA, shielding itself behind IFLA, intends to abrogate the function that only IFLA/FAIFE holds with regard to making "recommendations" to the library community of a country which has been besieged by the government of the country where, paradoxically, these recommendations are coming from. With what right does ALA interfere not only
with the self-determination of the Cuban people, but also with the library work of a nation that continues being oppressed by American Administrations for more than 40 years? The ALA report presents, in my opinion, a double reading, of which the true Cuban librarians should be careful, as the report has a "double edge."
Repeated phrases such as "ALA and IFLA", "ALA supports IFLA," "ALA joins IFLA," demonstrate what has already been said, that ALA shields itself behind IFLA to suffocate the dignity of the Cuban library establishment. And on the international level, what is IFLA? It is an association run principally by the library associations of nations that have acted hegemonically and oppressively toward the poor countries for centuries.
In the future, will there be a necessity to create a counterweight? That is to say, will it be necessary to create an IFLA comprised of poor nations to defend the dignity of the library associations of the non-hegemonic
countries? Including a defense from the currently-existing IFLA? Perhaps.
Fortunately, not all American librarians are in agreement with this report ....
From: "Wyma Rogers" <wyma at newportlibrary.org>
Date: 2004/01/31 Sat PM 03:48:01 PST
To: "Libs-or (E-mail)" <libs-or at webhost.osl.state.or.us>
Subject: [Libs-Or] Cuba controversy: Nat Hentoff Renounces Immroth Award
From: K. G. Schneider [mailto:kgs at bluehighways.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2004 12:48 PM
To: ALA Council List
Subject: [ALACOUN:11309] Nat Hentoff Renounces Immroth Award
You can read about it in the Village Voice:
Or, if you prefer, read my analysis, on my personal blog:
Karen G. Schneider
Lincoln County Library District
P.O. Box 2027, Newport, OR 97365
Phone & Fax: 541-265-3066
Work: diedre at mail.crsn.lib.or.us
Home: diedrec at charter.net
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