Monday, January 08, 2007

ALA's Book Burning Blindspot

Freadom has the text of a letter from Steve Marquardt, on the refusal of ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) to acknowledge the Cuban regime's documented burning of books seized from independent libraries. As he notes, OIF's web page on book burning in the 21st century still contains no mention of this occurrence in spite of the evidence he lays out in his letter:

Reputable and objective verification does exist in the total of 151 direct references to Cuba's sentencing documents in the comprehensive reports published by Amnesty International (click here) and the Organization of American States (click here). The details are in the attachment.

This issue is important to the reputation of our profession and the integrity of our Association. Reasonable people can differ about the legitimacy of Cuban laws allegedly violated by persons operating independent libraries and accepting information materials from the US Interests Section in Havana, but if government-ordered burning of thousands of "subversive" books is not worthy of mention, then our professional association has indeed turned a new ethical corner.

(URLs replaced by text links-DD)

Please visit Freadom and read all of Steve's letter to find out what you can do.

Unfortunately, this is not the only issue where OIF has turned a blind eye to documented cases of book burning. For example, the page on 20th century book burning has no reference to the public burning of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses by radical Muslims in the UK in 1988 and 89.

Sadly, it seems that the contents of OIF's book burning pages is yet another example where politics has trumped the principle of defending intellectual freedom.


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