“Our English language is a big part of it. It’s a carrier of freedom. Wherever the English language has gone, globally, freedom went with it,” Rep. Steve King said on CNN on Monday
The idea that freedom accompanies English everywhere is demonstrably false, as former subjects of the British Empire can attest. In fact, a bulk of modern history was shaped by the cultural and military violence and slavery that followed the English language as it traversed the globe — from brutal British colonial rule in Africa and Asia, to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, to slavery in the U.S. and the massacre and forced assimilation of Native Americans.
‘It’s 3.23 in the morning and I’m awake, because my great-great-grandchildren won’t let me sleep.
My great-great-grandchildren ask me in dreams
“What did you do while the Planet was plundered?
What did you do when the Earth was unravelling?
Surely you did *something* when the Seasons started failing?
As the mammals, reptiles, birds were all dying?
Did you fill the streets with protest when Democracy was stolen?
What did you *do* once you knew?”
‘What Did You Do Once You Knew’ by Drew Dellinger
The American Library Association strongly opposes any actions that limit free access to information, undermine privacy or discriminate on any basis. This includes the temporary suspension of visas and entrance to the US based on anyone’s nationality or religion as well as the increased scrutiny of any individual’s communication such as mobile phone and/or social media activity.
“Our nation’s 120,000 public, academic, school and special libraries serve all community members, including people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities and the most vulnerable in our communities, offering services and educational resources that transform communities, open minds, and promote inclusion and diversity.
“ALA believes that the struggle against racism, prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination is central to our mission. We will continue to speak out and support efforts to abolish intolerance and cultural invisibility, stand up for all the members of the communities we serve, and promote understanding and inclusion through our work.
“We will continue to speak out and support our members as they work tirelessly for access to library and information resources on behalf of all of their community members, while advocating for privacy, intellectual freedom, critical global research, information literacy, ongoing access to scientific research, and fair and equitable treatment for everyone.
“No-one voted to be poorer? Well, I did! I not only voted to be poorer, I also voted for the pound, the economy, industry and jobs to take a hit…..but don’t worry, the only people losing their jobs will be people on the European bandwagon. There’s no way anyone else will lose their job as a result of my vote. Which I’m so proud of I’m writing this letter, by the way. You’ll all thank me when the Global Freedom Benefits come flooding in.”
For though we like to ignore it, and prefer to think of ourselves as paragons of peace, and global champions of freedom and “British values”, the country’s imperial history tells a quite different story. Britain, far more than Germany, has a long record of attacking and invading other countries, and of wiping out the peoples of four continents as part of our “civilising mission”. The indigenous people of Tasmania, for example, were massacred by English hunting parties who were given licences to exterminate this “inferior race” who the colonial authorities said should be “hunted down like wild beasts and destroyed”; many were caught in traps, before being tortured or burned alive. The same fate befell the Caribs of the Caribbean, the Guanches of the Canary Islands, as well as tribe after tribe of Native Americans, from the Apache to the Iroquois, so that 90% of the Native American population was destroyed in a single century in a seamless process that began under British direction and was completed by the rogue colonists Britain had planted there. Meanwhile, under mostly British supervision, slave traders forcibly abducted 15 million Africans and killed as many more.
Because working to address social issues this big can be overwhelming.
Because the phrase “ignorance is bliss” perpetuates the problem; all problems.
Because there is bliss in the midst of the struggle.
In 2013, for the eighth year in a row, more countries registered declines in political rights and civil liberties than gains. Even as the number of electoral democracies in the world increased, nations like the Central African Republic, Mali, and Ukraine suffered devastating democratic setbacks. Thirty-five percent of the world’s population, living in 25 percent of the polities on the planet, found themselves in countries that aren’t free. As we enter a year in which more people will vote in elections than ever before, democracy appears to be in a holding pattern around the world—if not outright retreat.
Today, for two hours, all of our digital channels went dark to protest this unjust treatment. In response, we’ve seen people and media organizations from around the world come together as one to call for Rasool’s release and advocate for global press freedom. We at VICE want to thank all of you for your support and commitment to this fight.
The #FreeRasool hashtag trended globally in New York City, London, DC, and—most importantly—Turkey. In that short time, we also received over 8,000 signatures on our Change.org petition imploring the Turkish government to do the right thing and grant Mohammed Rasool his freedom.
Your help means a lot to us, but the fight isn’t over yet. Please continue to tweet your support and share the Free Rasool petition. Let’s make sure Turkey gets the message that we, as an international community, will not relent until Rasool is out from behind bars.