I’m sure glad I’m not on the ALA Council, if in fact I’m not on the ALA Council. (I just checked the roster and am pretty sure I didn’t see "Annoyed Librarian" on it, so I think I’m safe.) It’s not that there aren’t many fine people on Council. I can’t think of any at the moment, but there must be. It’s that the Council is constantly subjected to the political harangues of people in the Regressive Librarians Guild. The RLG librarians just love to harass people who don’t agree with them. If you, for example, think that the American Library Association shouldn’t take stands on political issues that have nothing to do with American libraries, the regressive librarians start attacking you as a "conservative" or "fascist" or whatever other nonsense pops into their heads. These people are so wacky they think anyone who isn’t a Marxist is a fascist, and they really hate it when people point out how ridiculous they look, marching around in their drab grey clothes singing the Internationale.
For a while they quieted down. I’m not sure if I had anything to do with it, but there was a correlation between a year or so of my publicly mocking them and picking apart their pitiful arguments and the radical wing of the ALA Council retreating into the shadows for a while. But, fortunately for me, they’re back.
If you read the ALA Inside Scoop blog (and it’s so riveting I don’t know how you can resist), you’ll have seen this report on the last session of Council. Here’s the relevant passage on the latest irrelevant resolution:
"During the International Relations Committee report delivered by chair Beverly Lynch, Councilor Al Kagan urged that we cannot achieve peace and stop the destruction of libraries and cultural institutions in Gaza without changing the policies of the U.S. government. A resolution on the connection between the recent Gaza conflict and libraries was introduced and the perpetual debate ensued: Is it the Association’s role to insinuate itself into international affairs? Councilor Elaine Harger argued that peace is a library issue, just as civil rights was in the 1960s, and Executive Board member Larry Romans cited ALA policy related to the Association’s social responsibilities.
With limited opposition, the resolution then passed, calling for ‘the protection of libraries and archives in Gaza and Israel’ and urging the U.S. government ‘to support the United States Committee of the Blue Shield in upholding the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.’ It also ‘calls on the U.S. government to continue working for a permanent peace in the region.’"
I have to hand it to the regressive librarians. They’re at least trying to make their irrelevant resolutions sound like they have something to do with libraries. Their previous arguments such as the one claiming that it was crucial for American libraries that Samuel Alito shouldn’t be confirmed for the Supreme Court were just plain stupid. There’s no other way to describe them. Councilors who voted for these things were either as willing to have the ALA look like a ridiculous mouthpiece for blowhards as the regressive librarians or they were so beaten down by the constant badgering of the regressives that they caved in just to shut them up. Either way, the ALA looks silly.
This time they are at least talking about libraries, just not American libraries. But then again, the regressives aren’t interested in American libraries. They’re interested in US policy and international politics – which I grant are much more interesting topics than American libraries. From the report, we can see the real interest: "changing the policies of the US government." That’s what we need to do to "achieve peace." How is this relevant? Oh yeah, to prevent the destruction of all those libraries in Gaza. Are there any American libraries in Gaza? Somehow I don’t think so, but then again no one really cares about that. What really matters is opposing Israel, and all this talk of libraries is just a red herring.
And look at the supposedly supporting argument. "Peace is a library issue, just as civil rights was in the 1960s." Huh? This is relevant how, exactly? Even if the civil rights argument was relevant, aren’t we talking about civil rights in America? Of course we are. And what’s the connection between American civil rights disputes forty years ago and peace in Gaza now? What am I missing? Obviously I’m missing nothing because there is no connection. It’s just a foolish argumentative ploy so that if anyone voted against the irrelevant resolution about Gaza the regressives could talk about how they also oppose civil rights.Oooh, scary!
Don’t forget to note the citation of ALA policy "related to the Association’s social responsibilities," policy that was added years ago after heated harangues by the regressive librarians and used to justify the ALA Council passing resolutions on any irrelevant political topic that comes along. It’s good to know that the ALA not only has "social responsibilities" for American society, but for every society in the world, except Cuba of course. The ALA is such an amazing, powerful, and all-knowing body that I just can’t understand why the rest of the world ignores their resolutions. I’m just assuming everyone ignores them. Perhaps after this resolution, libraries in Gaza are safe, and the Palestinians will say, "Thank you, ALA Council! You’ve saved our libraries!"
Now before you get your radical panties in a twist, I’ll state for the record that I don’t think libraries in Gaza should be destroyed, if that’s what you’re thinking. You’d have to be pretty doltish to think anyone opposed to this resolution thinks that, but I don’t put anything past the regressives. However, it’s eminently clear this has absolutely nothing to do with American libraries or the ALA’s alleged "social responsibilities" and everything to do with the regressive librarians getting the ALA Council to be a mouthpiece for their politics. If they tried to pass a resolution against Hamas firing rockets into Israel (which might destroy libraries, after all) or refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist (which also exacerbates conflict), I’d be shocked speechless, but would still be opposed. But we all know that won’t happen.
Since the resolution passed "with limited opposition," once again the ALA Council is a regressive librarian tool. All hail the revolution.