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Many, many years ago, when I was co-founding SFFS and warping the minds making sure that SF and fantasy loving Smith students would have a place to read their favorite books, my friends and I needed a faculty sponsor.  

Someone mentioned that, mirabile dictu et stupor mundi, a Smith alum who lived near the campus not only was on the faculty, but read and WROTE fantasy and science fiction.  Much of her work was for children, but we didn't care - we humbly sought out this writer, who taught a course on children's literature, and asked if she would be our sponsor.  She agreed, delighted to see kindred spirits lately sprung up at Sophia Smith's great legacy to the country and the world.

That woman was Jane Yolen.  

Since the day that Jane agreed to sponsor us, she's written literally hundreds of books for adults, children, and young adults.  Titles you may have heard of include The Devil's Arithmetic, The Pit Dragon Trilogy, Tea with the Old Dragon (about Sophia Smith herself, who was called "The Old Dragon" in her hometown due to her bad temper and deafness), Briar Rose, and my personal favorite, Cards of Grief.  She's won awards, raised three children (two of whom regularly collaborate with her), survived the loss of her beloved husband David, and become an institution.

And now she's under attack by the Tea Party for an interview she gave.

Recently Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson (yes, that Ron Johnson) made a public appearance at a public library.  He read a story, How do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms? aloud to the kiddies in one of the very libraries that he and his associates in the Tea Party would either close due to budget cuts or, just possibly, privatize.

Jane got wind of this and wrote the following comment on the blog post that described Johnson's little jaunt to the library:

"I wish he would help kids and not cut those programs that help them, rather than just reading a book chosen for him, and written by a progressive Massachusetts liberal like me.

A columnist at the Madison Capitol Times saw this, started an e-mail dialogue with Jane to clarify her position on Johnson's choice of reading material.  The resulting interview made it clear that Jane is a true, dyed-in-the-wool liberal, and that she has no problem taking on the hypocrisy of someone who advocates the dismantling public institutions doing a reading at a public library.  She also publicly said that as a Jew, she was appalled by the anti-Christian behavior of so many professed Christians in politics, and gave the following reply to one question about Sen. Johnson:

He is a Republican junior senator associated with the Tea Party. And that makes me think that either he is 1. A True Believer in the Tea Party NoNothingness [sic] which frightens me or 2. Kowtowing to it for votes which possibly frightens me more. Since the Tea Party (and alas much of the Republican Party these days) are the ones behind the notions of breaking unions, throwing librarians out of their jobs, and defunding education, I think it is more than a tad bit disingenuous for such politicians to be out in libraries reading books to children who will have no libraries to visit if we listen to the Tea Party.

Of course the Tea Party got wind of this, and now Jane is under attack by Tea Partiers and other conservatives in yet another on-line forum.  I won't link to it directly, but here's the link from the Democratic Underground.  Of course the conservatives and Tea Partiers are outnumbering the progressives on the critical forum by a large factor, and of course the media hasn't picked this up yet.

So - if you support Jane, please consider defending her.  She did me and my fellow girl geeks a tremendous favor back in the day, and if I can help her in this, it's only part of the debt that I and every SF and fantasy loving alumna of Smith owe her for her early support.  And please, when you do, be polite!  Leave the insults and nastygrams to the attackers.  Jane is a great lady and immensely strong, but rudeness and insults on line do her cause no good.  

Thank you.  I appreciate it.

6:15 AM PT: Front page?  Good heavens!  Thank you all so much!

1:48 PM PT: Jane has seen one of the numerous links to this diary that have popped up on Facebook.  So far she hasn't threatened to fly back early from Scotland and kill me....

6:57 PM PT: And...I just found out that Neil Gaiman retweeted this story.  Moe Lane, whoever he is, isn't going to know what hit him.

8:26 PM PT: Now the worthy Mr. Lane is making videos.  What a gentleman he is:

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Tue Aug 23, 2011 at 04:47 AM PDT.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive, Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter, and DKOMA.

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