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Tags: historians | trump | impeachment | letter

Impeachment Is Turning Some Historians Into Activists

Impeachment Is Turning Some Historians Into Activists

Craig Shirley By Friday, 20 December 2019 04:20 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Miguel De Cervantes once wrote, "For historians ought to be precise, truthful, and quite unprejudiced, and neither interest nor fear, hatred nor affection should cause them to swerve from the path of truth…”

While some may posit that the great Spanish novelist never had to document the world according to President Donald J. Trump, the great thing about a principle is that it, like history, transcends time.

Upon hearing that 750 historians had signed a letter detailing their approval of the impeachment of President Trump, I was initially surprised.

Political activism may have permeated through most of the American zeitgeist, but history, I hoped, would rise above the tide. Historians turning to activists is not uncommon, but a legion of 750 is easy prey for the groupthink and myopia that a historian must remove oneself from. Still, they'd be far from the first historians to get presidents wrong.

When Harry Truman left office, his approval rating was 22 percent. Now, three generations later, he is regarded in the near-great category.

Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan were also derided by liberal historians during their time in office — historians who are just now re-evaluating upward their opinions of both. In retrospect, they have both risen in the estimation of the professional history industry.

In fact, the only president who was regarded as great when he was president was George Washington.

We need to let the ground cool and allow the smoke to clear before we begin evaluating the Trump presidency in the bright dawn of all the facts and after the dust has settled. Historians simply do not now possess all the facts of the Trump presidency.

I was not a Trump supporter in the primaries of 2016 and remain very skeptical today. Judgement must be reserved before the ultimate opinion of the Trump presidency and its place in history is rendered.

I was not asked to sign the letter but, should I have been, I would have politely said no, as I think we need to be observers and recorders of history and not participants. There is a gulf of a difference between rendering an opinion on a president in the moment and the history comparable to another man and another era, and activating one’s political views and calling for the ouster of a chief executive, especially on such flimsy evidence.

Historians need to be governed by their judgment and not their passions. It is our duty to take the long view and not be caught up in the intramural skirmishes of the day. We must be, as Washington said of the Senate, the saucer that cools the tea.

Historians must be guided by the facts and the Democrats never presented the facts of their case against Trump. Therefore, their letter is political, not factual, meaning their liberalism guided them rather than their scholarship.

These strange impeachment trials have become a farce politicization of a serious resolution of the constitutional process established to maintain the democracy of our country. The vitriolic diatribe put forth by the Democratic Party has eroded the trust of the public, and further polarized a nation that was already divided.

In their fear of losing the impending 2020 elections, the left has perpetuated this charade designed to shift the focus of America, their shaky foundation behind the impeachment claims to shift every day to fit their narrative.

It is a shame that some historians have decided to vocalize their own political beliefs, exploiting their credible platform of academia as a means of authority.

To my brother and sister historians, I ask you to remember it took over 150 years for a decent biography to be written on Andrew Jackson and he is now considered by some to be a good, at best above-average, president despite being censored by the congress. An activist-historian is an oxymoron. To be both is to document a forest by staring at a tree. No man can see the entire battle from ground level. Our place in history is, in many ways, to stand apart from it. I believe many of those historians who signed that letter will regret it in the years to come.

Or, as Oscar Wilde put it, "Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it."

Craig Shirley is a Ronald Reagan biographer and presidential historian. His books include, “Reagan’s Revolution, The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started it All,” “Rendezvous with Destiny, Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America,” "Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years," and “ Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan." He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, “December, 1941” and his new 2019 book, “Mary Ball Washington,” a definitive biography of George Washington’s mother. Shirley lectures frequently at the Reagan Library and the Reagan Ranch. He has been named the First Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan’s alma mater and will teach a class this fall at the University of Virginia on Reagan. He appears regularly on Newsmax TV, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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I believe many of those historians who signed that letter will regret it in the years to come.
historians, trump, impeachment, letter
Friday, 20 December 2019 04:20 PM
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