Letters to the Editor
Defending the Profession
AHA Members, February 2007
Editor’s Note: Perspectives welcomes letters to the editor on issues discussed in its pages or which are relevant to the profession. Letters should ideally be brief and should be e-mailed to the Editor (or mailed to Letters to the Editor, Perspectives, AHA, 400 A Street SE, Washington, DC 20003-3889) along with full contact information. Letters selected for publication may be edited for style, length, and content. Publication of letters does not signify endorsement by the AHA of the views expressed by the authors, who alone are responsible for the letters’ contents. Institutional affiliations are provided only for identification purposes.
To the Editor:
The undersigned members of the AHA write in support of the "Resolution on Practices of the U.S. Government Inimical to the Values of the Historical Profession." The resolution was adopted by a large margin at the January 6, 2007, AHA business meeting, was accepted by the Council, and is now being sent out to the members for ratification.
We support the resolution as a fitting means of defending the values of the profession against attacks from the Bush Administration mounted in the name of "national security." These attacks include obstruction of access to pre-war intelligence, exclusion of foreign scholars, reclassification of previously unclassified documents, practicing torture to secure information, and other intrusions upon the freedom of inquiry necessary to historical research.
Historical circumstance compels us to recognize that these violations are inextricably linked to the war in Iraq. While attacks on civil liberty have multiple origins, history will record that since 2001 they have been conducted in the name of "national security" under the banner of a "war on terror" whose supposed front line is in Iraq. In calling for a "speedy conclusion" to the war in Iraq, the resolution seeks to remove the major factor behind these attacks and is, therefore, consistent with our professional responsibilities.
To vote in favor of the resolution is to affirm conscientious scholarship. We are pleased to note that the AHA has come to the defense of open inquiry with the passage of a "free speech" resolution; the Statement on Professional Standards; the adoption of Guiding Principles on Taking a Public Stance; and President Barbara Weinstein's article in the January 2007 issue of Perspectives.
In keeping with that proud record, we prefer not to be remembered by posterity as "good Americans" who accepted grievous wrongs, but rather as citizen-scholars who took a public stand to oppose the misdeeds of the powerful when they directly assaulted the ethical standards of our profession.
We urge other members to join in support of this historic resolution.
—Michael Adas (Rutgers Univ ); Ben Alpers (Univ. of Oklahoma); David Applebaum (Rowan Univ.); Marc Becker (Truman State Univ.); Thomas Bender (New York Univ.); Magnus Bernhardsson (Williams Coll.); Renate Bridenthal (Brooklyn Coll., emerita); John Coatsworth (Harvard Univ.); Frank Costigliola (Univ. of Connecticut); John Cox (Florida Gulf Goast Univ.); Robert Darnton (Princeton Univ.); Alan Dawley (The Coll. of New Jersey); Charles B. Dew (Williams Coll.); Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz ; Ian Christopher Fletcher (Georgia State Univ.); Eric Foner (Columbia Univ.); Jeffrey Freedman (Yeshiva Univ.); Nathan Godfried (Univ. of Maine); Warren Goldstein (Trinity Coll.); Van Gosse (Franklin and Marshall Coll.); Robert Griffith (American Univ.); Atina Grossmann (Cooper Union); Carla Hesse (Univ. of California at Berkeley); Maurice Isserman (Hamilton Coll.); Marion Kaplan (New York Univ.); Alice Kessler-Harris (Columbia Univ.); Nelson Lichtenstein (Univ. of California Santa Barbara); Ngo Vinh Long (Univ. of Maine); Staughton Lynd ; Elizabeth McKillen (Univ. of Maine); Carl Mirra (SUNY Old Westbury); David Montgomery (Yale Univ.); Anna K. Nelson (American Univ.); Mary Nolan (New York Univ. ); Enrique Ochoa (California State Univ.); Arnold A. Offner (Lafayette Coll.); Margaret Power (Illinois Institute of Technology); Liam Riordan (Univ. of Maine); Roy Rosenzweig (George Mason Univ.); Peter Sahlins (SSRC); Ellen Schrecker (Yeshiva Univ.); Joan Scott (Inst. for Advanced Study); Scott W. See (Univ. of Maine); Shanti M. Singham (Williams Coll.); Dale Van Kley (Ohio State Univ.); Jon Wiener (Univ. of California at Irvine); Lawrence Wittner (SUNY Albany)