American Historical Association Releases Statement on Domestic Terrorism, Bigotry, and History

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tags: AHA, American Historical Association, White Supremacy, public engagement, domestic terrorism

The following is an excerpt from the statement by the American Historical Association. To read the entire statement, click here or the link at the end of the page. 

The American Historical Association expects the following statement to stimulate more questions than answers.  The Association hopes these questions make their way into classrooms, libraries, museums, city council meetings, community centers, and even coffee shops, wherever people are trying to connect with each other to make historical sense of our current moment. 

Shortly after the November 2016 presidential election, the American Historical Association noted with dismay the “continuing evidence of polarization to the point of harassment seldom seen in recent American history. Historians can say with confidence that this is not our nation’s finest hour. Language previously relegated to the margins has moved out of the shadows, emboldening elements of American society less interested in a more perfect union than in division and derision.”

That was the first time the AHA had issued a statement in response to an election. We were well aware of the dangers of seeming to be entering a political realm, venturing beyond our mission of promoting historical work, historical thinking, and the professional interests of historians. But we were equally aware of the responsibility we bear as part of the institutional matrix of civil society. As teachers, researchers, and citizens, historians bring to civic culture the values of “mutual respect, reasoned discourse, and appreciation for humanity in its full variety” that we emphasized in our 2016 statement. As historians, we recognized the dangers on the horizon, given what we have learned and taught about the histories of bigotry and its implications in the United States and elsewhere in the world. 

And now, in the wake of mass homicide in Pittsburgh, El Paso, and elsewhere, our fears are being realized. These events rest on a long history of racist and xenophobic domestic terrorism, evident when taking a historical perspective but too seldom recognized in public discourse. Too few Americans, for example, frame the Ku Klux Klan within the context of a history of racially oriented terrorism that must be named and contextualized if we are to learn from the past and do better in the future.

Read entire article at AHA