George Bush on ‘Revisionist Historians’

To the editor:

Last week, when his administration was criticized for justifying the Iraq invasion with forged evidence, President Bush accused his critics of attempting to “rewrite history.” Then Ari Fleisher sneered at “revisionist historians.” As historians, we are troubled by these remarks.

It is central to the work of historians to search for accuracy, and to revise conclusions that prove to be unsupported by evidence. Revision, based on fresh evidence, is a good thing. The argument about the use of misleading claims in the State of the Union address is not about revising history; it is about whether public statements were founded on honestly presented evidence.

Joyce Appleby, University of California/Los Angeles

Alan Brinkley, Columbia University

Linda Gordon, New York University

Hendrik Hartog, Princeton University

Michael Kazin, Georgetown University

Linda Kerber, University of Iowa

Alice Kessler-Harris, Columbia University

Vicki Ruiz, University of California/Irvine

Richard White, Stanford University

(Institutions listed for identification only.)