In a vote conducted electronically the American Historical Association’s membership has voted in favor of a resolution that accuses the Bush administration of violating the standards and principles of free speech, open debate on foreign policy and open access to government records in furthering the work of the historical profession. Specifically the resolution mentions the following violations:
? excluding well-recognized foreign scholars; condemning as “revisionism” the search for truth about pre-war intelligence;
? re-classifying previously unclassified government documents;
? suspending in certain cases the centuries-old writ of habeas corpus and substituting indefinite administrative detention without specified criminal charges or access to a court of law;
? using interrogation techniques at Guantanamo, Abu-Ghraib, Bagram, and other locations incompatible with respect for the dignity of all persons required by a civilized society;
The resolution also calls on the membership to do whatever they can to bring the Iraq war to a speedy conclusion.
According to a press release issued by the group “The outcome indicates the deep disquiet scholars feel about damage done to scholarly inquiry and democratic processes by this misbegotten war,” said Alan Dawley, a professor of history at the College of New Jersey one of the sponsors of the resolution. Shades of the ’60’s.
If there was such deep disquiet then why did less than 15% of the association’s members cast their votes? Could it be perhaps that as liberal as most historians tend to be that not even they could stomach the hard left language of the resolution?
The vote is far from a mandate and will be only a minor blip if that on the Bush administration’s radar screen, but it gives us yet another valuable and verifiable glimpse into just how far to the left historians and academia have swung.