Library Patriots

There’s a good editorial in The Nation this week. Well, of course it’s good, for suggesting that librarians are among the real patriots to honor over the glorious Fourth:

“Since the enactment of the Patriot Act in 2001, the American Library Association (ALA) has been at the forefront of the fight to defend freedom of inquiry and thought from provisions of the act that allow the Justice Department to subpoena the records of libraries and bookstores…

“But the librarians have not just been lobbying to change the Patriot Act, they’ve been on the front lines of exposing its abuses. When four Connecticut librarians challenged an attempt by the FBI to use a National Security Letter to obtain records of who was reading what in that state, the Justice Department slapped a gag order on them. But the 64,000-member ALA and its Freedom to Read Foundation stood up for the librarians, working with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Association of American Publishers and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression to make a federal case of the issue. In May, after the FBI dropped its defense of the gag order — and shortly before it withdrew its demand for the records — a federal appeals court declared that order moot, and the librarians were at last free to speak out…

“The ALA isn’t the only group challenging the Administration’s disregard for basic liberties. The American Bar Association is investigating whether George W. Bush exceeded his constitutional authority when he reserved the right to ignore more than 750 laws enacted since he took office. The American Medical Association has adopted guidelines that make it unethical for physicians to participate in interrogating detainees…

“Those defenders of basic rights are the patriotic heroes of this Fourth of July… They are responding to Paine’s call, as relevant now as it was more than 200 years ago: ‘Ye that dare oppose not only the tyranny but the tyrant, stand forth!’ “

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