In Response to: The Politics of History

Thank you for the article on Allen Guelzo, a titan in the Lincoln field. Princeton is very fortunate to have him. Thank you, too, for revealing the apparent truth about inescapable bigotry at least in some of the elite ranks of elite educational institutions. As the article’s subtitle says, indeed Professor Guelzo is battling over how we teach about America’s past. It seems he has been battling his own professional colleagues all his academic life! The article states, “In the age of Trump, can a serious scholar moonlight as a conservative pundit without tarnishing his reputation in the academy?” Such tarnish can only happen if influencers in the academy value subjective political ideology more than objective scholarship. How about the treatment Guelzo received at Penn, where “… a faculty gatekeeper unsuccessfully argued against passing Guelzo on to the Ph.D. program—what was the point, if he was going to end up teaching at a Bible college?” Or that “… a Penn faculty member warned [Guelzo] that ‘the slightest whiff of religion on your résumé is the kiss of death.’” Doesn’t this constitute religious bigotry in the professoriate? Or how about nine American historians contacted for the story (including the congruously named Professor Blight of Yale) declining to speak about Guelzo because of their political disagreements with him. Doesn’t such shunning reek of intellectual or viewpoint discrimination? Ah, how I wish the ideal we cherish of an elite liberal arts university education truly was still liberal. 

Thomas H. Pyle ’76
Princeton, N.J.