Why Jonathan Zimmerman is Not Signing the “Historians Against Trump” Letter

Historians on TrumpI have long been a fan of Jonathan Zimmerman‘s  op-ed writing.  He is a model of how historians should engage the public as historians.  We have written about his work here.

Over at The Chronicle of Higher Education, Zimmerman explains why he will NOT be signing the “Historians Against Trump” letter.  Here is a taste:

… I won’t join Historians Against Trump, which indulges in some of the same polarized, overheated rhetoric used by Trump himself. In a statement released on July 11, the new group warned that Trump’s candidacy represents “an attack on our profession, our values, and the communities we serve.” But that claim is itself a repudiation of our professional values, which enjoin us to understand diverse communities instead of dismissing them as warped or deluded.

I speak, of course, of the millions of people who have cast ballots for Donald Trump. According to the signatories of the statement, there’s only one historically grounded opinion on Trump: their own. By that definition, then, Trump supporters are uninformed. When he accepts the Republican nomination this week, the historians’ statement concludes, the party will have succumbed to “snake oil.”

Of course, there are plenty of ignoramuses and bigots in the Trump camp. But surely there are reasoned, knowledgeable people who back him.

The “lessons of history” — to quote the historians’ manifesto — can be read in different way, by equally informed people. And it strains credulity to imagine that all Trump supporters have had the wool pulled over their eyes.

Read the rest here.

Zimmerman points to the same issues I raised as I reflected on my FB exchange with Mike Kugler.  I stand by my decision to sign the document for the reasons I expressed in my last post, but Zimmerman is correct in pointing out these flaws in the document.