In his article on the radical-harboring Blue Moon Tavern, Seattle historian Walt Crowley mentions the Canwell Committee—the Washington Committee on Un-American Activities—which during the 1940s conducted anti-communist witch hunts against University of Washington faculty members. Sadly, today one can imagine a UW professor being charged with aiding terrorism after discussing U.S. Middle East policy with students informally after class. In fearful times, even discussing issues can kindle suspicion and provoke repression of people and ideas.
I once heard former astronaut Buzz Aldrin say that American society is “risk averse.” He was speaking of the space program, but his idea applies generally in this time of endless war against secret enemies. Intellectual freedom is about risk. Dare we risk letting citizens study irreverent ideas, read controversial literature, pursue their studies wherever they lead, and separate truth from lies and propaganda? Is this freedom worth the risk? Those who say ‘no’ oppose or discount the creative potential released by knowledge and information made freely available: Letting go allows for serendipity and permits surprising syntheses of ideas. It allows expansive possibilities and permits wise participation in self-government.
Alki Editor: Cameron A. Johnson
Alki Editorial Committee: Nicole Campbell; Cheryl Farabee; Emily Hull; Tami Echavarria Robinson; Brian Soneda; Bonnie Taylor; Mary Wise; Jen Wolfe, intern; Carla McLean, chair; Mary MacKintosh, Link editor; Troy Christenson, WLA Coordinator of Communications
Cover by Joan Blacker and Kevin Duncan
Download the full-color PDF issue below.
Published March 2003
By Tami Echavarria Robinson, Whitworth College
by Walt Crowley, HistoryLink
by Jonathan Franklin, University of Washington
by Cass Hartnett, University of Washington, and Judy Solomon, Seattle Public Library
by Cameron A. Johnson, Everett Public Library, and Laura C. McCarty, Friends of the Mukilteo Library
by David Dilgard, Everett Public Library
by Carla McLean, King County Library System, and Emily Hull, University of Washington
by Jonathan Betz-Zall, City University
by Kenneth Einar Himma, University of Washington
By Carol Gill Schuyler
By Cameron A. Johnson
By Nancy Pearl