Late in the afternoon the AHA made history.
At the annual Business Meeting, a proceeding usually featuring dry reports by the organization’s leaders, the members approved an anti-war resolution, the first in the AHA’s existence.
The voice vote at the packed meeting was nearly unanimous. It was sponsored by Historians Against the War.
The meeting also approved a measure putting the AHA on record against the use of “free speech zones.”
A third resolution urged the AHA council to consider subscribing to a pro-labor service that tracks developments in the hotel and convention industry.
All of the measures must be approved by the council before they are considered the official policy of the AHA.
This is the text of the anti-war resolution:
Whereas the American Historical Association’s Professional Standards emphasize the importance of open inquiry to the pursuit of historical knowledge;
Whereas the American Historical Association adopted a resolution in January 2004 re-affirming the principles of free speech, open debate of foreign policy, and open access to government records in furthering the work of the historical profession;
Whereas during the war in Iraq and the so-called war on terror, the current Administration has violated the above-mentioned standards and principles through the following practices:
* 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;
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; and
Resolved, That the American Historical Association urges its members through publication of this resolution in Perspectives and other appropriate outlets:
1. To take a public stand as citizens on behalf of the values necessary to the practice of our profession; and
2. To do whatever they can to bring the Iraq war to a speedy conclusion.