Annoyed Librarian
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Resolutions Too Dumb to Consider

I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday. As usual, I spent my Fourth of July in a sundress sipping martinis and watching fireworks while rejoicing that I don’t live in some barbaric state where women aren’t allowed to sit around in public wearing sundresses and sipping martinis. To get into the spirit of the American founding, I also had a manhattan made with rye.

Meanwhile, I’ve wanted to get back to some good old ALA conference reporting, or at least report about one other thing. Some of you might know that there was no anti-war resolution passed by the ALA Council this past conference. That’s a relief to the government, I’m sure, because nothing panics our politicians more than to realize a bunch of librarians are opposed to something.

What you might not realize is that SRRT bandied an anti-war resolution about that was so dumb it never even went up for a Council vote. There was a draft circulating on the Council listserv, though, so you’re in luck. Let’s take a look at the:

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ROUNDTABLE RESOLUTION URGING CONGRESS TO END THE FUNDING OF UNAFFORDABLE WARS, TO REDIRECT OUR TAX DOLLARS TO PUBLIC LIBRARIES, PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING.

That’s a very catchy title, but then again revolutionaries always have the best titles. It’s right up there with Capital, The Communist Manifesto, and The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World.

We can tell a lot about what’s wrong with the resolution from the title alone. It seems the regressive librarians have given up trying to appeal to our sense of justice about fighting the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They’ve now moved to the hardcore, materialist, and capitalist line, perfect for overworked, harassed professionals.

Wars aren’t the problem. The problem is unaffordable wars! Affordable ones are just fine, it seems. The WHEREASs aren’t much better.

WHEREAS, the financial resources available for use by governments at the local, county, state and federal levels in the United States are and must be limited

That seems true at first glance, but it’s only true for the short term. A budget is limited at any given time, but over time we have to factor in taxes, interest, credit, inflation, and even the possibility of creating more wealth rather than just shuffling numbers around on Wall Street. I’m just sayin’.

WHEREAS, United States citizens and residents are collectively paying or becoming indebted for approximately 1,000,000 per year per soldier of their limited financial resources for warfare in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan

1,000,000 what isn’t made clear, but let’s assume it’s dollars. At first I misread it, and thought each American owed a million dollars, but since that would mean the war costs $300 trillion I knew that couldn’t be right. Maybe I was confused because the sentence is so confusing. “collectively paying or becoming indebted…of their resources”? This is supposed to be English, right?

WHEREAS, such expenditure is now approaching one trillion dollars not including the costs of hundreds of US bases in other parts of the globe.

This one might actually be an understatement of the costs, so I’ll grant that. I’m still not sure what it has to do with American libraries, though.

WHEREAS, this warfare creates great and unnecessary harm to U.S. military personnel and their families, and to the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan;

That’s a matter of interpretation, but I’m willing to go with this one, too. I do wonder whether those harmed are harmed in American libraries.

WHEREAS, essential public services including services provided by US public libraries and public institutes of learning have been substantially reduced while an excessive portion of available financial resources is diverted from the constructive economy to largely unnecessary warfare

Finally, libraries! It’s true that such public services have been cut recently, though the implication is that this has something to do with the wars rather than the result of  a lot of really stupid decisions about housing prices, credit default swaps, government borrowing, and other fun stuff. The introduction of libraries came out of nowhere, and is only tenuously connected to the resolution. Not to mention the fact that libraries are for the most part funded by local communities and states, not the federal government.

WHEREAS, United States students rank 15th in reading, 19th in math and 14th in science in a ranking of 31 countries

That doesn’t surprise me at all, though it has nothing to do with war. A lot of Americans are lazy and ignorant and their leaders like them that way. Twas ever thus.

WHEREAS, 10 percent of Americans are unemployed despite this war economy

This one I can’t make much sense of. Are we really in a “war economy”? This isn’t exactly WWII. The unemployment also has nothing to do with the war. In fact, maybe the unemployed should enlist in the military and we could solve the unemployment and military recruitment problems at the same time.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

Oh, goody. We’re finally getting to the point.

THAT the American Library Association respectfully requests the United States Congress oppose all legislation brought before the 111th U.S. Congress that provides further funding of U.S. military occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan with the goal of expeditiously terminating these military operations;

That’s right. Save our tax dollars! End this war! The librarians say so!

And resolved that the United States provide material assistance through the United Nations for the reconstruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan including its libraries, and schools.

Oh, wait. Spend more of our tax dollars after ending this war! These two points seem to contradict themselves. Plus, I just noticed that SRRT has a serious comma problem.

And resolved that this resolution be received by all members of Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the President of the United States.

Oooh, that’s a good. one. “Resolved that this resolution.” I like it!

So, what do we have with this mess? We have a resolution that says wars are fine, as long as they’re cheap. This resolution has nothing to do with American libraries, and the resolution to “provide material assistance” to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan undermines the one dubious connection that is made, because obviously any money going to those countries isn’t going to fund American libraries.

It was a sad, desperate attempt to use the ALA Council as a tool for political statements having nothing to do with American libraries, and even more poorly reasoned than usual. SRRT, please, just give it up. We get it. You’re opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afganistan. Fine. Go protest or write your Senator.

Better yet, include a strongly worded message to President Obama in the SRRT Newsletter! That would have all the political effect of an ALA Resolution about war and would save the Council the hassle of having to read this gobbledygook.

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Comments

  1. Annie says:

    I love you. This is hilarious.

  2. Michael says:

    The regressive librarians must still be all ginned up from the US Social Forum.

  3. Raynor says:

    “a sad, desperate attempt to use the ALA Council as a tool for political statements having nothing to do with American libraries”

    Shocking.

  4. Real Librarian says:

    I wish the ALA had boiled it down to “War is Bad”.

  5. ashamed says:

    I love how libraries around the country are facing closures, budget cuts and harder times than ever, and yet the best the ALA can offer are these inane platitudes. This is why I stopped paying ALA dues years ago.

  6. Marion says:

    I think SRRT is losing its edge. They’ve gone a year without ticking us off with their pointless babble.

    Viva la libraries!

  7. Real Librarian says:

    Gosh, the ALA is ineffective and doesn’t do anything worthwhile.

    Thank you AL.

    I wish I could have figured that out before I paid dues for years and years and did not read what they were up to.

    Quit pandering to us.

  8. bps says:

    So what if the resolution has nothing to do with libraries? Would the AL approve if the statement was more clearly written and reasoned? Don’t think about war, drink another martini.

  9. I Like Books says:

    It makes as much sense as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants making resolutions about libraries, or the Association for Computing Machinery making resolutions about music instruction. They have no expertise in it, and it’s not within the scope of the organization. Sure, the AL should think about war. But why should the AL care what the ALA has to say about war?

    Besides, what are they going to do about it besides pass a resolution? Nobody will ever know, except for a subset of the library community. They might oppose those wars, but if all they’re going to do about it is pass a resolution, then they can’t possibly oppose them very much. Might make them feel good, though.

    If the members of the ALA want to get active in wars there are plenty of organizations that exist expressly for that purpose, and can pursue that purpose far more effectively– they can be members of more than one organization.

  10. Allison says:

    I was happy to see this resolution. I wasn’t pleased about the misused commas, but I appreciated SRRT’s attempt to tie the resolution to libraries. It seemed as though they had realized that they’re part of a library association, and that they should strive for relevance. But perhaps I’m being too optimistic.