An unusually bitter and divisive election has been followed by 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.
Historians should, as part of our work, explore the multiple factors that have shaped this new terrain. The American Historical Association encourages that scholarship, but at the same time condemns the language and harassment that have charred the American landscape in recent weeks.
The AHA is chartered by the US Congress to promote the study of history in the United States. To advance this goal, the association has agreed on shared standards, including an emphasis on mutual respect and reasoned discourse—the ongoing conversation among historians holding diverse points of view and who learn from each other. A commitment to such discourse—balancing fair and honest criticism with inclusive practices and openness to different ideas—makes possible the fruitful exchange of views, opinions, and knowledge.
The American Historical Association reaffirms its commitment to mutual respect, reasoned discourse, and appreciation for humanity in its full variety. We will strive to demonstrate these values in all aspects of practice, including in our roles as teachers, researchers, and citizens.