Magazine article American Libraries

Reader Forum. (Opinion)

Magazine article American Libraries

Reader Forum. (Opinion)

Article excerpt

Terrorists Mischaracterized

Will Manley asserts that "the perpetrators of the great crimes of September 11 were Arab Americans" (Nov., p. 100). This statement is not correct. According to the November 5 Washington Post, the terrorists' citizenship is broken down as follows: 15 Saudis, two United Arab Emirates citizens, one Lebanese, and one Egyptian. Although the visa status of these persons differed, none can be considered to be an "Arab American."

It's important to bear in mind that the atrocities of September 11 were an attack on the United States by a foreign power; they were not, in any way, acts of domestic terrorism. That said, there is, as Manley observes, no excuse for singling out Americans of Middle Eastern descent as potential terrorists. One means of preventing the persecution of Arab Americans is to concentrate on keeping al Qaeda operatives out of this country. We may assume that this is one of the government's top priorities since September 11.


Information Gateways Consulting Goodview, Minnesota

Why Scold Librarians?

I am writing to question why American Libraries ran a cartoon that seems to suggest library staff accusing Arab Americans of stealing library books (Nov., p. 100). The cartoon accompanied a column by Will Manley, and I take strong exception to many aspects of this piece. For one thing, the cartoon made no sense in the context of the column. Manley was accusing fellow air travelers of racism for (I assume) reacting to a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder and declining to fly with people who made them uncomfortable. He also reported on the conversations of his own staff, which I find highly questionable in a national journal. I wonder if those staff members sharing political views knew they would be branded as racist, or little better, by their boss? But none of this even begins to suggest anyone thinks Arab Americans are book thieves. What was the point of that cartoon? And wouldn't the library establishment hit the roof if that cartoon was published in a non-library publication?

Beyond the cartoon, I found Manley's column to be poorly edited. He referred to the terrorists as Arab Americans, which they most definitely were not. He seems unable to grasp the nuance that historical injustice to Japanese Americans does not directly translate to public policy regarding screening of immigrants today. I fail to see why librarians need to be scolded on this issue in the first place.

I would appreciate some sort of explanation as to the editorial decision-making in running this column and cartoon.


Prince William (Va.) Public Library System

The cartoon was intended as an exaggerated parody of the attitudes will Manley condemned in his column. American Libraries erred in referring to the September 11 terrorists as Arab Americans and regrets any offense that might have been taken. --The editors

No National Trauma

The cover of the November issue of American Libraries carries the statement, "A Nation Traumatized by Terrorism."

Wrong. The surviving families and friends are certainly traumatized. But the nation is not traumatized. To imply so is to portray us as a weak people and concede to a bunch of international thugs that they can frighten us at will. What has occurred on September 11 has united us and made us determined to fight back.

By stating that the nation has become traumatized you are giving aid and comfort to terrorists.

Americans will go to libraries for information and we will badger our government to annihilate terrorists.


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

A Professional Take on 9/11

Both Leonard Kniffel's editorial "When Eternal Vigilance Isn't Popular" (Nov., p. 37) and Will Manley's "We Are the Guardians of History" (Nov., p. 100) were excellent accompaniments to your November "Loss and Recovery" issue. …

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