When historians speak out on controversial issues it is natural to think -- whether you agree with them or not -- that they take their stand based on their academic expertise, not on sordid partisan considerations.
Sadly, there is now evidence indicating that the 200 historians who took out a full page ad strongly opposing impeachment in The New York Times last month (a few days before the Nov. 3 election) were up to their necks in partisanship.
Did they pool their resources and pay for the $55,000 ad themselves? No, points out The Wall Street Journal; it was paid by super-rich TV producer Norman Lear's People for the American Way lobby, a close ally of the Democratic Party's left wing.
These "historians speaking as historians" to "deplore the... drive to impeach the president" didn't even think it was historically significant to note in their ad who was paying for it, thus leaving the false impression that they did.
Yet that's not surprising when you realize the 200 academics took lessons from President Clinton's White House on how to "mislead" people. George magazine reports that the pro-Clinton manifesto was written in large part by White House propagandist Sidney Blumenthal!
One of the historians, Princeton's Sean Wilentz -- whose tasteless name-calling during testimony opposing impeachment outraged several House members -- denies Blumenthal wrote the ad (but not the group's connection to him). But it's distressing to realize these so-called "objective historians," comprising the nation's most influential chroniclers of history, are no more objective than their ghost-writer, Sidney Blumenthal. And they're teaching our kids?
Recent news stories have highlighted the alarming shortage of math and science teachers in the U.S. It appears we have a shortage of good historians as well.