Sarah Palin and Library Politics


One of the numerous political rumors currently making rounds on the web has to do with a list of banned books** and the 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee, Sarah Palin. According to an Anchorage Daily News article, around the time she became mayor of Wasilla (1996), Palin initiated a conversation with city librarian Mary Ellen Emmons regarding the possibility of removing some “objectionable” books from the public library’s collection. (Read The Nation‘s coverage of the incident here.)

While I agree that there are absolutely aspects of her record and politics that merit scrutiny and continued discussion, so too it seems do some of her latest slams. In concluding a Palin-inspired article posted last week, Erica Jong (writer for the Huffington Post) said, “White trash America certainly has allure for voters. Some people think rednecks are more American than Harvard educated intellectuals of mixed race.” (Read the whole piece here).

I appreciate what Kathleen de la Pena McCook wrote in response to this statement in Working Life:

No, I don’t think Sarah Palin is the kind of candidate who believes what I believe …but the attacks on her family and personal reproductive choices seem to me a product of classism by writers like Jong.

In librarianship we have a tradition of fighting against social exclusion and providing service to everyone. We have policies and programs for poor and homeless people. The classist attacks on Palin and the socio-economic groups that writers like Jong imply she represents reveal a class system based on an ivy league education and disdain for everyday people like those in the grief-stricken communities of Columbine, Colorado or Red Lake, Minnesota [Jong:every school shooter’s dream-see below].

Jong, hypocritically ingenuous, uses a photoshopped falsehood to bolster her classist argument:

[Jong: “the photo of Sarah Palin in a stars and stripes bikini, toting an automatic weapon. It says more than any Op-Ed or blog. Hot broad with cool weapon. Every school shooter’s dream of womanhood. Alas, the photo is photoshopped, but true in spirit.”]

Through this long election season this Librarian is mindful that all people –especially poor people –deserve library service. Maybe, like me, books and a good public education will make a difference in their lives. But if smart, verbal people like Jong are classist against poor “trash” there will be continuing social exclusion and less understanding.

**The list of books that Palin was to have sought banned has recently been posted as false at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s