Historians Against the War: At the AHA Convention, 2006





Mr. Applebaum, a professor of history at Rowan University, is a member of HAW's National Steering Committee, 2006-2007.


HAW celebrated its third birthday at the AHA Convention in Philadelphia. The first order of business was the annual election of a national steering committee. Results will be posted on our web. This was followed by Ben Alper's report on affiliation with the American Historical Association and the unanimous decision to take advantage of the opportunity, possible because we meet the AHA requirement for three years of work. As an affiliated group HAW will no longer be dependent upon other groups - MARHO and the Radical History Review - who graciously helped us up to now. . 

I presented the third agenda item, the "Urgent Appeal to Save Iraq's Academics." HAW voted to join this effort. It will publicize the indiscriminate killing that has taken the lives of 250 Iraqi colleagues as well as the United Nations University report that 84 percent of Iraq's institutions of higher education have already been burnt, looted or destroyed. This is a key step in addressing a problem that will cripple democratic possibilities in Iraq. 

The fourth agenda item at HAW's meeting was debate on resolutions scheduled for the AHA Business Meeting opposing the "so-called" academic bill of rights. HAW played the lead role in this effort, initiating discussion, delegated drafting the text to Ellen Schrecker, and gathered almost one hundred co-sponsors. The “Resolution opposing Academic and Student Bills of Rights and Similar Regulations of the Academic Community,” was approved by HAW, the AHA Business Meeting and received unanimous approval from the American Historical Association Council. 

Alan Dawley made a progress report on HAW's first major conference, scheduled for the University of Texas-Austin on February 17, 2005. The rich and diverse program, organized around the theme of "Empire, Resistance and the War in Iraq" attracted more than fifty submissions of scholarly work. Almost forty people are already signed up. We anticipate several hundred at a plenary session featuring Howard Zinn. Detailed information on the program and registration is available at http://www.historiansagainstwar.org

HAW offered a taste of the lively and thought provoking agenda for Texas at its well attended roundtable on "Historical Perspectives on Bush's Foreign Policy." Dawley chaired the session and discussion. The speakers were John Prados, "How We Were Hoodwinked on Iraq," Rusti Eisenberg, "Historical Lessons from the Vietnam Era," and Larry Wittner, "The Role of Peace Movements in Ending Wars." The session produced vibrant and vital debate and discussion. The materials are ripe for a new HAW pamphlet. The new panels and papers scheduled for the Texas Conference hold the promise of more pamphlets and the potential for a book.

The last item on the agenda of the HAW Business meeting was a call for support from HAW members. There are no dues or fees. Additional funds will allow HAW to increase publication of affordable and accessible materials, which contribute to scholarly debate as well as provide guidelines for effective teaching. We hope that next year, HAW as an affiliated society under the umbrella of the AHA will sponsor more events, and have a "table of our own" with sufficient funds to expand our work. 

In addition, HAW sponsored two breakfasts and an evening social. They were made possible by Larry Robin’s Bookstore. Approximately thirty new members joined HAW during AHA meetings.



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Richard F. Miller - 1/12/2006

Thank you for the correction about HAW's name--the article is in fact included and my point about deception is wrong.

However, I stand by the balance of my comments, particularly relating to historians who would propagandize (in the name of history) by resort to "lessons," "teachable moments" and the like. It strikes me as being the same as modern physicians resorting to quackery in an effort to vindicate their particular moral or political vision.


Adrian J. Seath - 1/12/2006

Actually, there is no "deceptive omission of an article" in the official name of the organization, which is Historians Against the War, as a visit to its website or a look at its logo shows. True, the website is www.historiansagainstwar.org, but I assume that's in the interest of typing fewer letters rather than an attempt to deceive.


Richard F. Miller - 1/12/2006

Beware of whig historians peddling "lessons" of history, as if historical events, always sui generis, were somehow arithmetic equations replicable into the future. Beware of historians masking politics as history and peddling fatuous "teachable moments" spurred by some current event. Any idiot with the slightest respect for the process of historical research, assessement and writing would do well to keep her mouth shut before accessing relevant documents, most of which won't be available for years.

Those historians interested in retailing "lessons" or "teachable moments" need to consider other professions. Ward heeling, for example; or warming up the convention crowd for the main speaker.

Expressing pride in this charade probably qualifies you as an ideal contributor to Daily Kos. But any historian that approbates an outfit called Historians Against War (note the deceptive omission of an article before the word "War"--as if this outfit is actuated by some universal pacifism, when in fact, according to its website, there is only one war that concerns it--Iraq) and which aspires to marshal an entire profession "against" a historical process that requires clear thinking and not foregone conclusions, is one that (to me) inspires less pride that a shudder.


Mike Hodas - 1/12/2006

In these bleak times you make me feel proud to be an historian.


Thomas W Hagedorn - 1/11/2006

Perhaps Professor Applebaum will address that question in his Freshman Seminar on "Free Speach" this Spring. Hah!


Ralph E. Luker - 1/11/2006

David, You forgot to mention that HAW refused to go on record as being opposed to speech codes that violate academic freedom.

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