ON THE NATURE OF HISTORICAL TRUTH
- A PERSONAL CREDO -
Historical truth cannot simply be decreed by an advocacy group or any number of such groups, however determined, sincere, or politically-correct they may be.
It cannot be enacted by a legislature or signed into law by a president.
It is not measured by the column inch in a newspaper.
Historical truth is not a numbers game.
Polls do not certify it.
Political winds do not blow it onto our doorsteps.
Debates do not end because one side proclaims they have found the truth and
therefore no further discussion is required or dissenting views permitted.
Or because the majority calls the minority names.
Or can twist its arm until it cries uncle.
Or tries to silence it in other ways.
Historical truth is established by historians through research, argument, and debate.
Its arrival is facilitated by an untrammeled respect for the freedom to speak and to think.
If even a minority of reputable historians argues otherwise, the debate continues.
While scholarly doubts exist, all are entitled to their version of the truth.
No one can impose a contested truth on others, and no one is required to believe it.
Even if not accepting a truth hurts the proponents' feelings. Or makes them angry.
Even if expressing disagreement, skepticism, open-mindedness, or confusion is
Even if one's beliefs go uncovered in the daily newspaper.
Or are denounced on its editorial page.
Or are labeled as intolerant, unloving, or as just plain denial.
Even if it means you stand alone.
Historical truth can only be established through free inquiry, and through the
uncoerced agreement of free minds.