Scholars usually avoid politics, content to plod around the stacks in the university library and write essays for obscure academic journals. But after Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential elections, hundreds of Jewish historians signed an open letter pledging their opposition to many of the new leader’s ideas.
“We condemn unequivocally those agitators who have ridden Trump’s coattails to propagate their toxic ideas about Jews,” the statement read, in reference to the ‘alt-right’ and its anti-Semitic appeals. “More broadly, we call on all fair-minded Americans to condemn unequivocally the hateful and discriminatory language and threats that have been directed by him and his supporters against Muslims, women, Latinos, African-Americans, disabled people, LGBT people and others.”
Organized by David Biale, a professor at the University of California - Davis, the letter pledged the academics to fight the incoming administration.
“Hatred of one minority leads to hatred of all. Passivity and demoralization are luxuries we cannot afford,” it continued. “We stand ready to wage a struggle to defend the constitutional rights and liberties of all Americans. It is not too soon to begin mobilizing in solidarity.”
The letter included many prominent names on it — Susannah Heschel at Dartmouth, Paul Mendes-Flohr at the University of Chicago, Beth Wenger at the University of Pennsylvania, Shaye Cohen at Harvard and Maurice Samuels at Yale.
Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.