Just back from the annual Board Meeting of Amnesty International USA, Freadom Co-Chair, Steve Marquardt, has these very insightful comparisons between the so-called "Progressives" who formulate ALA Cuban policy, and the behavior of "Right Wing" ideologues.
Right Wing Characteristics of the ALA Progressives, or
Why the So-Called ALA Progressives are really the ALA Right Wing regarding Cuba
1. Unlike flakey human rights types who advocate the freedom to read anywhere and at any time with no regard to geopoliticallectual "contexts," the ALA Progressive takes a cautious, prudent, conservative and context-sensitive posture to avoid unwarranted categorical condemnation of book burning and naÃ¯ve unthinking advocacy of freedom for imprisoned promoters of questionable, subversive and useless books.
2. The ALA Progressive avoids association with such radical groups as the French Communist Party, which in knee-jerk fashion immediately called for release of the imprisoned Cuban dissidents. The PCF stubbornly holds to that unyielding position.
3. The ALA Progressive understands the need for law and order and respects the right of nations to "take a bite out of crime" and to crack down, get tough and send a message to their respective criminal elements. In Cuba this message includes the death penalty, which is also in force in 38 of the most Republican states of the USA. The US Trading With the Enemy Act has a maximum sentence of ten years for accepting non-informational items from Cuba. Cuba's version of this law is twice as severe, doubling that sentence to 20 years for receipt of informational (as well as non-informational) items and for both receiving information and sending information out of the country.
4. The ALA Progressive apparently considers the context of book burning in Cuba to be similar to the same events in Nazi Germany 70 years ago, in the sense that in both cases the burned anti-patriotic books were those in the possession of cosmopolitan anti-patriotic elements who threatened to stab the current regime in the back, despite the regime's nearly universal popular support.
5. The ALA Progressive joint committee members who authored the Cuba approved by ALA Council in January 2004 expressed "support and assistance to the Cuban library community in safeguarding free access to â€¦ the Internet," an access then as now among the most unfree and restricted in the world, to a degree that would be the envy of any school board in the Bible Belt.
6. The ALA Progressive is pro-business, advocating the 19th century colonialist principle that freedom follows the vanguard of economic enterprise. This belief in the primacy of business activity â€“ that intellectual freedom and other freedoms must be preceded by free trade â€“ is evident in their belief that if only the embargo is lifted, then Cuba's political prisoners will be released.
7. The ALA Progressive respects and approves the role of the armed forces in domestic society, viewing with basic approval the achievements of the only two remaining regimes in Latin America led by figures who parade about in military uniform.
8. The ALA Progressive views sympathetically the family-centered Mafia approach to leadership, which retains control within the family by passing national executive authority on to close family members, such as a younger brother.
9. The ALA Progressive understands the need for a fundamentalist belief system that guides a purpose-driven life within the Church of the Revolution and protects the mass of the faithful by separating heretics into institutions that can encourage them to repent their false beliefs, by means of torture if necessary.
10. The ALA Progressive in the Office for Intellectual Freedom shares the same proclivities to covering up crimes, as demonstrated by conservative administrations from Nixon through G.W. Bush. The sealing of Bush archives and the closing of EPA libraries is echoed in the ALA OIF restrictive selectivity in posting news of book burnings, as shown by its (January 2007) posting of five (5) violations of Harry Potter titles, but not the incineration of a Martin Luther King Jr biography or any other titles in the six (6) independent libraries destroyed by order of Cuban provincial courts.
11. The ALA Progressive in the Office for Intellectual Freedom has said, "I cannot rely solely upon â€¦ a website funded by grants from the U.S. government." Perhaps if the website were hosted not by the federally compromised Florida State University, bur rather by the ultraconservative Hillsdale College (which refuses even federal work study funds for students) it would be trustworthy.
12. Like banana republics that ratify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and every UN human rights convention that comes down the pike, while ignoring oppression of indigenous peoples, minority groups and dissenting voices, the ALA Progressive adopts eloquent Intellectual Freedom language while voting down the calls for the physical freedom of dissidents imprisoned for pursuing their nonviolent interest in studying and expanding their conscientiously held ideas.
Â© Steve R. Marquardt, 2007