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Hey, But Tell Us What You Really Think!

Mark Rosensweig’s latest post, about an “On My Mind” piece I did on Cuba that AL published in its last issue.

I don’t mind the swipes at me (and I’m flattered to be compared with Nat Hentoff), but I will say that AL is one of the finest and fairest publications I have ever had the pleasure to write for. Too bad Mark couldn’t simply disagree with what I had to say.

Once again, if I’m misled, I’m in great company–with Sandy Berman, Noam Chomsky, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and a host of other people and organizations. I would like to be this mislead more often.

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Privileged access to AL by anti-Cubans
Date: Wed, 7 Apr 2004 15:28:53 -0500
From: Mark

Dear Friends,

I was angered and dismayed to have opened up the latest American Libraries today to see an “On My MInd’ column in there by the omnipresent ALA Councilor, Karen Schneider, about her own putative ‘heroism’ in ‘falling on her sword’ over the Cuba issue in Council — and about Council’s having been duped by ‘extremists’.

In this latter charge she lines up with all those on the far Right who are claiming that ALA is controlled by a Left-wing cabal, a red conspiracy, something she, in any case, knows very well not to be true, but which she is exploiting.

Schneider’s self-aggrandizing fable about her ‘falling on her own sword’ in Council is obviously a tall tale. Or, rather, if she actually fell on her own sword it was apparently neither too sharp nor too strong, because she’s still around to continue blathering away about Cuba ( of which, in my opinion, she knows very little and, in reality, cares even less –except as a means for positioning herself in her on-going ‘campaign for the promotion of Karen
Schneider’) and is alive and well and performing with even more volubility, smugness and mendacity than ever. Next time, she can borrow MY sword to fall on.

Most troubling is that, apparently dissatisfied with Council’s decision himself, the editor of AL, Leonard Kniffel, has decided to turn over the journal to a one-sided attack on Council, on Schneider’s opponents there — all 150 odd of them (?)– whom he gives her a venue in which to deride them as extremists or dupes.

I didn’t think that AL was supposed to take sides in such a disagreement, especially taking sides against the decision of Council. There is something unethical about it, which is an issue I will pursue further with the ALA Executive and ED Keith Fiels (undoubtedly to little effect).

It is fine that Schneider is unwilling to accept that she tried entirely unsuccessfully to get the ALA to bow to the dictates of Robert Kent’s Friends of Cuban Libraries ( so unsuccessfully that only herself and one other Councilor voted for her resolution no matter HOW she tried to pitch it) in accepting the specious and absurd claims of the so-called ‘independent Cuban librarians’ that they were arrested and sentenced for the practice of librarianship and not, as was indeed the case, for paid criminal conspiracy (merely posing as librarians at the stage direction of their American controllers, but that is hardly the central issue) with the US interest section in Havana, and that in a situation in which the US is admittedly organizing, both overtly and covertly –and, certainly, illegally — for ‘regime change’ in Cuba (like the regime change it helped effect in Haiti — restoring Duvalieriste thugs to power — and is working on in Venezuela and is so ably pursuing in Iraq — where it’s chasing the whirlwind of its ‘kill for peace’ and ‘demolish for democracy’ regime-change program with maniacal alacrity and disregard for human rights).

It is fine that Schneider insists that famed anti-abortion-rights editorialist Nat Hentoff –who has been attacking ALA and its officers column after uninteresting syndicated column about his current bete noir , Cuba — should be appeased so that he will stop the bullying meant precisely to smear ALA’s reputation to get it to relent and repent.

But American Libraries should NOT be given over, one-sidedly, to Hentoff and Schneider’s crusade against Council and ALA for disagreeing on how to handle the issue of relations with Cuba and, above all, Cuban librarianship

The most irritating and disturbing thing is that AL editor Leonard Kniffel is getting away with giving Schneider’s side, Kent & Hentoff et al., carte blanche and has given them yet another opportunity to attack the integrity and intelligence of Council, with Schneider now disingenuously playing this card where, saintly and beleaguered, having lost by a near unanimous vote of a body of malefactors, she pretends to be with the ‘little guy’ against the big
bad(elected) Council which voted for a balanced and thoughtful report of an IFC/IRRT committee charged to investigate this matter and report back, Schneider representing this as bowing to Castroite extremists, something patently not the case.


I hope you will write to Leonard Kniffel and demand that the other side be given access to the next issue of AL to fully represent its case, that the ALA took a rational, ethical and balanced position in relation to Cuba.

Mark Rosenzweig

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