Oops. The American Historical Review admits it assigned a book review to a historian who celebrates white identity politics

Historians in the News
tags: racism



[The] American Historical Review, a flagship journal in history, has apologized for assigning a book about inequality and urban education to a professor who has been criticized by many as a white supremacist.

Many historians say that the review -- in criticizing the book's author for not focusing on "sociobiology" -- was effectively criticizing her for not endorsing widely discredited views about race and intelligence. The journal is commissioning a new review of the book but is not retracting the review that it published.

The book in question is Making the Unequal Metropolis: School Desegregation and Its Limits (University of Chicago Press), by Ansley T. Erickson, assistant professor of history and education at Teachers College of Columbia University. The book was published last year, to positive reviews....

The reviewer selected by AHR, as the journal is widely known, was Raymond Wolters, professor emeritus of history at the University of Delaware. Wolters has published a series of articles in American Renaissance, a publication that urges a focus on "white identity."

One of his articles is "Why Have We Unlearned What We Knew in 1900?" In the article, Wolters laments that, after World War II, the United States and its allies "decided to put as much distance as possible between their nations and Nazism, which they came to define as refusal to accept diversity. In retrospect, we can see that this set the stage for dismantling the existing particularisms in Western societies."

He goes on to suggest that immigration to the United States and Europe from "non-whites" could "ultimately destroy the victors of World War II." ...

Robert A. Schneider, interim editor of AHR and professor of history at Indiana University at Bloomington, published an apology at the end of the letters.

His statement, in full: "The AHR deeply regrets both the choice of the reviewer and aspects of the review itself. As for the choice of the reviewer, I have reviewed the process by which he was placed on our 'pick list' of potential reviewers, and I have been reassured that we were not aware of his publicly aired and published views when he was selected. His university webpage reveals him to be a legitimate scholar with a fairly long and solid publication record; our database also confirmed his status as an academic who has published in credible scholarly venues. It is absolutely true, of course, that a little more digging would have turned up evidence that would have -- and has -- discredited him as a legitimate scholar.

"Regrettably, we did not dig further. Worse yet, we did not investigate his views even when his review was flagged for my perusal. This is entirely on me. I recall lingering over that last sentence where he mentions sociobiology, wondering whether it was appropriate. In retrospect I should have lingered longer. As well, this sentence should have prompted me to look into his recent publications, which would certainly have convinced me to pull the review. Alas, I did neither, for which I owe both Professor Erickson and our readers an apology. We will be commissioning another review of her book."...




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