Laura Bush speaks Truth to Power

GregS* writes "At the World Economics Forum in Jordan to an audience filled with representatives of anti-democratic countries Laura Bush says the following:

"As the Honorary Ambassador for the United Nations Decade of Literacy, I'm asking all nations to help people acquire literacy skills. A mother's ability to read and write is especially important. Our mothers are our first teachers, and children's success is linked closely to theirs. Children who are read to from a very early age are more likely to begin reading early themselves. They're more likely to excel in school, to graduate from secondary school, and to go to a university. They're more likely to love learning and to value education." Read more here.

You can also read about a speech given by the Director of the Alexandria Library at the same conference here, including a critique of Laura's speech."


Those were just fantastic. I'm sure if Senator Clinton gave them librarians worldwide would be elated. However because some people hate the messenger they lose the message.

Nothing can be more true than the dignity of freedom. Just as there is dignity in all work from President to street sweeper, there is similarly dignity in freedom.

The dignity of the human person begins at conception and end with a natural death. The oppression of various political systems serves to undermine and destroy this personal dignity. Communism, Fascism, Socialism, Islamofascism -any political system in which the individual is prohibited from truly and freely exercising his rights to do what he pleases, choose a career that suits her, vote as he wishes, and express views on all subjects-especially political encroaches on one's dignity of freedom.

While there is no Utopia, we have found the best, albeit at times imperfect solution in Democracy. Democracy is not some new fangled idea we have been toying with for a few years, Democracy has evolved from 5th century BC Athens to what the United States embraces today- the form of government offering the most freedom to the most people while allowing them to participate in governing themselves.

As librarians we have an obligation to make information free. With information citizens may solve their own problems: minor inconveniences as well as major concerns such as universal suffrage or a desire for a liberal democracy. We as librarians need to take note of the resounding truth in the dignity of freedom and make ourselves and our libraries Champions of Freedom.

Even though many librarians loathe the messenger, the message is clear. We must encourage freedom, the freedom to read, the freedom to think, the freedom to be as one chooses: The Dignity of Freedom.

It sounded more like the gossip section of the New York Post!

He wears an interesting bracelet, which has three loops, and is possibly made of leather. (I'm not a great judge.) May be religious, or "spiritual." And Gere has snow-white hair — lots of it — in the manner of Phil Donahue, starting decades ago.

. . .

Unfortunately, she keeps wiping at her face. Is she combating sweat? Or is there a fly about? If there is a fly, she makes no reference to it, simply wiping and waving, which is distracting. (I later learn that the culprit, indeed, was a fly. Mrs. Bush could have said something like, "Shoo, fly!") (But that would have made us hungry for pie.)

It's an excellent speech and everything she says is true--but this is the same former librarian who had no word of criticism or disagreement when John Ashcroft called librarians hysterical dupes for objecting to Sec. 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, and the same former teacher who had no word of criticism or disagreement when Rod Paige called teachers terrorists.

So while I applaud the speech, and hope it has some effect, I doubt the sincerity of the speaker.

It is an excellent speech.... but I don't like something she didn't do (and had no duty to do) so I doubt her sincerity.

What a unique argument.


Despite the above political statements, it is worthy to consider and monitor the effectiveness of the programs Mrs. Bush is promoting. For example, "My Arabic Library," distributes translated children's books. The price listed (from the state department) is $6>. That seems like a lot of dough--is this supposed to weaken the effect of Islamic schools on the children?

She did have a duty to speak out against the attack on literary freedom inherent in USAPA; an ethical duty. Her failure to discharge that duty erodes credibility in her speech. Remember: Credibility Gap: When what they say does not match up with what we see.

And I couldn't disagree more with Greg's choice of subject title. Laura did not speak truth to power since the U.N. does not seek or exercise the kind of political power national goverments do. Georgy-porgy is the person in power to whom her remarks should have been addressed, and if the U.S. had and interest in her ideas, they would be dropping books instead of bombs, and not further crippling the American education system by first implementing No Child Left Behind, and then not even funding that properly.

Oh, and by the way; given how some republicans are still screaming hysterically over how everything is Bill Clinton's fault, after eight years of slandering him and trying every smear tactic during his presidency, neither of you has the moral high ground when it comes to criticizing the messenger instead of the message.

From what I know about Arabic books, etc., any book that has an image of a human or an animal or features art, music or dance, (i.e., practically every book imaginable for children), is not allowable according to Islamic law. For example, even though "Where's Spot" has been translated into Arabic, Muslims are not allowed to read or own it because it features an animal, albeit a cute little drawing of a dog who likes to hide. So books for Muslims is problematic--unless it's the Koran.

First let's be clear. I offer this knowing it doesn't carry the angst driven perspicacity of an Alternet, Truthout or Dreamwoven Encyclopedia.

That said, may I suggest Amitai Etzioni's "How Patriotic is the Patriot Act?" (Routledge 2004), for an objective, comprehensive look at this law? Etzioni, certainly not a rethuglican hack, is the Director of Communitarian Policy Studies at GWU, and previously taught at two liberal bastions of higher education, Berkeley and Haahvaad. Oh, by the way, he was also a senior advisor to Jimmy Carter. So, we can put your standard griping of right-wing bias to bed on this one.

A few nuggets:

In the 2004 election cycle President Bush campaigned for its (Sec 215) unmodified renewal, without much response from his Democratic Challenger, John Kerry. Civil libertarians are particularly strongly opposed to this section the Act. It is not however immediately obvious - given that the First Amendment allows the publication of designs on how to make dirty bombs, nuclear weapons, and manuals on how to better kill people - that under no circumstances should the government be able to show a jury that a terrorist checked out from a library such materials that he or she then followed to the letter...

After the September 11 terrorist attack, there were good reasons to rush through legislation expanding government authority, given the fear of more immenent attacks by sleeper cells...

All said and done, several measures that the Bush Adminstration has launched sinced the September 11 terrorist attack are, I tried to show, reasonable and necessary...

It's not the reasonable and necessary measures over which we take umbrage; it's the unreasonable and unnecessary measures, which are overwhelmingly in the majority.

Anne Applebaum's column complained that Mrs. Bush didn't address policy, "failed to put the issue of women's rights in the middle of the democracy debate going on in the Muslim world." Now wouldn't that be sweet. A first lady trying to make policy! (Oh, it's happened before? Really?) She then went on to contradict herself "nor should it be left for the first ladies to discuss. . ."

She uses Mrs. Bush's visit to describe every problem Moslem women have in areas struggling with democracy, like Shariah religious laws, religious courts, local clerics, and Quran interpretation. Never mind that today Moslem women have more freedom because of George Bush than they could have imagined in 2000. She wants the constitutions of Turkey, Morocco and Egypt to change for women, and seems mad that Mrs. Bush didn't address this.

"At the very least, religious and political freedom must be guaranteed for women if Iraq is to remain a demoracy, or even andopen society over time." Patience lady. Patience. She must be terribly impressed with the Bushes if she thinks they'll undo hundreds of years of tradition and religion in one administration! Let them work out their own sex relations. The ladies are voting, now it is up to them.

I offer this knowing it doesn't carry the angst driven perspicacity of an Alternet, Truthout or Dreamwoven Encyclopedia.

You offer it instead, I've no doubt, in full faith that it will be endorsed blindly by dope heads and Bush fanatics like Rush Limburger and others of his ilk, who have their lips surgically attached to any Republican presidential anus that gets into the oval office.

...dope heads...Bush fanatics...Rush Limburger...anus..

Wonderfully deft. We've now completely forgotten the book I suggested.

Wonderfully Republican. You consistently complain about my using your own tactics against you. If this is the system you want then why don't you rejoice that it works instead of bitching that it is working to your detriment? It's really galling isn't it, when the people you are smearing won't play along but insist on maintaining a level playing field despite your best efforts otherwise?

Oh, I see. I'm being taught a lesson here.

Do tell. Is it true you only teach the ones you love?


Your Little Slavemaster

I'm willing to offer learning to anybody. What they make of it -- or not -- is up to them.