Thursday, June 29, 2006


Yesterday's drop of "The Nation" had an editoral on "American Patriots" given well deserved credit to America's librarians who have stood up to the fascist policies of the US Patriot Act.

The editoral states that the 64,000 member "American Library Association (ALA) has been at the forefront of the fight to defend freedom of inquiry and thought from provisions of the act that allow the Justice Department to subpoena the records of libraries and bookstores."

It is certainly encouraging to see a large segment of American society taking such a risky stand. Certainly few would have expected such defiance to come from the library community, but looking at the history of librarians shows a rich history of political working-class struggle.

For instance, in 1953 the ALA adopted the "Freedom to Read Statement" which opens "The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools [...]" It can be found in full here.

The ALA also has a press release listing some "real-life" librarian heroes which can be found here.

An unfortunate reality is that Marxist writings have too often been the targets of censorship, with many localities criminalizing the possesion or disemination of Marxist literature. In most places such laws have been repealed. In nearly all cases librarians have stood up to resist censorship.

Some may call this patriotism but in my estimation such heroics transcend mere nationalism. Preservation of knowledge in the face of persecution by one's own government is something else: it is internationalism.

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