Codrescu ALA speech on C-SPAN

A message from Robert Kent, Friends of Cuban Libraries (

Dear bloggers:

A tape of Andrei Codrescu’s sensational January speech at the ALA midwinter conference will be broadcast on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 5:45 P.M. (Eastern Time) on C-SPAN2, on the BookTV program. We hope you will inform your readers of this historic broadcast.

The first segment of the speech is about other matters, but in the second half Andrei tears into the ALA for failing to defend Cuba’s independent librarians from persecution. Even better, it is said, is Andrei’s post-speech dialogue with a stunned and (for once in his life) semi-speechless Michael Gorman. Andrei’s presentation marks what may be a turning point in ALA history (as noted by the 75% of respondents in the AL Direct poll who voted to condemn the Castro regime). Airing times may differ in other time zones, so viewers should check their local listings.

Also, re-printed below is the lead editorial from the 2-10-06 Wall Street Journal, with a scathing commentary on the ALA’s Cuba hypocrisy. The fact that no notice of this important editorial was published on the ALA Council listserv is just another example of the arrogance and isolation of the ALA extremists who exert disproportionate influence. A glaring example of this contempt for the average ALA member is IFACTION, the “intellectual freedom” listserv maintained by ALA official Don Wood, which disdainfully “forgot” to mention this key WSJ editorial in postings sent to subscribers. in the same manner, Wood has studiously ignored other important criticism of the ALA in major periodicals. But with the help of vital publicity from bloggers like you, this effort by ALA bigshots to suppress key information, with the goal of keeping the ALA “peasants” in the dark, will fail.

Keep up the fire,

Robert Kent
Friends of Cuban Libraries

Lead editorial in Feb. 10, 2006, Wall Street Journal:

Madame Librarian: Defending Terrorists’ Privacy While Ignoring Real Repression.

Excerpts: “…To hear the ALA talk, librarians are the last bulwark defending our most cherished civil liberties against government assault. Yet two recent examples show again that self-anointed guardians of the public good can be very selective about the people, and rights, they choose to protect.

“…More revealing… is the ALA’s forked tongue when it claims to defend all library freedoms. Since 1998, Cuban authorities have arrested and imprisoned citizens who operate ‘independent libraries,’ and destroyed their collections. Often based in houses, these libraries provide books and other information, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, considered criminal by the Communist dictatorship.

“Human-rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have condemned the repression and called for the librarians’ release. Yet the ALA refuses to even acknowledge their suffering Cuban counterparts. It apparently accepts the Cuban government’s assertion that ‘the dissidents’ don’t qualify as librarians and that freedom of information flourishes on the island.

“A cat jumped out of the bag at the ALA’s January meeting in San Antonio, though, when keynote speaker and Romanian-born author Andrei Codrescu blasted the organization for abandoning the independent librarians. ‘Is this the same American Library Association that stands against censorship and for freedom of _expression everywhere?’ To add insult to injury for apoplectic ALA leaders, a subsequent informal poll of the rank-and-file in an electronic newsletter suggested that 75% want the organization to stand up for the Cubans.

“On Sunday, ALA President Michael Gorman emailed the newsletter’s editor to say that ‘we would be better off without these polls.’ That smells like censorship–from the very same people who bring us ‘Banned Books Week.’ An organization that roars about the chilling effect of Section 215 on library users also looks pretty hypocritical when its own member-readers are discouraged from circulating their opinions openly.

“All something to remember in March, or any time the ALA next tells us that, on issues of freedom, librarians know best.”

3 thoughts on “Codrescu ALA speech on C-SPAN”

  1. Unfortunately, Gorman can get his speech on whenever he chooses. Although, the exchanges, especially the documented emails that our friend has deciminated will record his true intentions. Our message, our belief, is slowly rising again. Be patient.

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