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.