The American Historical Association’s membership has ratified a resolution that condemns what it describes as U.S. government violations of civil liberties “during the war in Iraq and the so-called war on terror.” The Bush administration, the resolution states, has violated “principles of free speech, open debate of foreign policy, and open access to government records in furthering the work of the historical profession.”
Among those violations, the resolution states, are the exclusion of foreign scholars, the reclassification of previously unclassified documents, the suspension of habeas corpus in certain cases, and the use of unacceptable interrogation techniques at Guantanamo, Abu-Ghraib, and elsewhere.
“Whereas a free society and the unfettered intellectual inquiry essential to the practice of historical research, writing, and teaching are imperiled by the practices described above,” the resolution continues, and “whereas the foregoing practices are inextricably linked to the war in which the United States is presently engaged in Iraq,” the association’s membership should “take a public stand on behalf of the values necessary to the practice of our profession … and do whatever they can to bring the Iraq war to a speedy conclusion.”
The vote, conducted electronically, was 1,550 in favor and 498 opposed, according to the association’s blog. The total number of voters constituted just under 15 percent of the association’s membership. The resolution was initially discussed in January at the group’s annual meeting, where it was decided to submit the measure for the entire membership’s consideration.
“The outcome indicates the deep disquiet scholars feel about damage done to scholarly inquiry and democratic processes by this misbegotten war,” Alan Dawley, a professor of history at the College of New Jersey, said in a news release. Mr. Dawley was the initial mover of the resolution, according to the statement.