Live, in Cuba, its “Farenheit 451”!

Saturday, August 20th, 2005 8:26 pm by Neal

In his recent essay, Book burning in Cuba, Nat Hentoff tells an amazing tale of a recent encounter with legendary Ray Bradbury — author of the famous novel Farenheit 451 — in which he gets to inform Bradbury of Castro’s library-burning practices in Cuba as a classic example of life imitating art. In this case, the “art” is a book about a dystopian society in which the government routinely burns books and libraries, particularly those of the “dissenters”, which pretty much describes “modern-day” (if you can call it that) Cuba. Hentoff recounts,

For example, on April 5, 2003, after Julio Antonio Valdes Guevara was sent away, the judge ruled: “As to the disposition of the photographic negatives, the audio cassette, medicines, books, magazines, pamphlets and the rest of the documents, they are to be destroyed by means of incineration because they lack usefulness.”

Among the books destroyed through the years by Fidel’s arsonists have been volumes on Martin Luther King Jr., the U.S. Constitution, and even a book by the late Jose Marti, who organized, and was killed in, the Cuban people’s struggle for independence.

So, Castro is a murderous, book-burning, meglomaniacal dictator. What’s new? Actually, what’s new is Nebraska governor David Heineman’s efforts to sell Castro beans, and his response to several congressman’s concerns which Heineman characterized as “politics of the day”:

Replied Lincoln Diaz-Balart: “It’s like saying politics is not part of a trip to Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s. It’s not a question of politics — it’s a question of elemental human decency.”

What is not new in this sad tale is the non-response of the American Library Association. If ever a group cared about burning libraries, it would have to be this group, right? Wrong. However, despite a fondness for communists at the national ALA, at least one Nebraskan librarian is showing solidarity with his persecuted Cuban counterparts while reminding us of the true meaning of “Banned Book Week”.

Boyce writes: “We are going to be putting together a very small display of banned books for the fall of 2005 Nebraska Library Association Conference in late September,” and he wants to include some titles forbidden in official Cuba libraries.

This will be a significant reaching out to Cuba’s imprisoned librarians by an individual American library state association — the first time it’s happened. Yet, the national Governing Council of the American Library Association continues to refuse to ask Castro to release the independent librarians in his prisons. Admirers of Castro on that governing body have blocked that clear support of the freedom to read — the very credo of the ALA.

Comments are closed.