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From the Letters to the Editor column of the October 2003 Perspectives

Letters to the Editor: On Personal Political Opinions

Martin J. Wiener, October 2003

This letter is in response to AHA President James M. McPherson's article, Revisionist Historians, published in the September 2003 issue of Perspectives.

To the Editor:

As a former member of the AHA Council, I was startled to see the president of the AHA using the space of Perspectives to attack the current administration. To expound personal political opinions in an official space as the president is the most unprofessional thing I have seen in 35 years of reading Perspectives. And on top of that, to slur the scholarly reputation of Condoleezza Rice by quoting derogatory remarks from a review of a book he admits he has not read is surely an abuse of his office, indeed a matter one might think the Professional Division would consider. I am sorry if this letter seems intemperate, but it is the first time in my career as an historian that I have been moved to protest to the AHA. The president of the AHA and the editor of Perspectives, more than simply any individual member, have a serious responsibility to uphold, one that I believe has not been upheld in this case.

If persons hostile to the academic enterprise itself seek for evidence of its politicization, they have certainly been handed one by the AHA.

—Martin J. Wiener
Rice University