UVa historians who quit posts over ex-Trump aide hiring: He's an 'enabler' of anti-truth

UVa historians who quit posts over ex-Trump aide hiring: He's an 'enabler' of anti-truth
© Greg Nash

Two historians at the University of Virginia on Wednesday expanded on their reasons for resigning from their roles at the college's public policy center, saying the center hired an “enabler of Trump's anti-truth” in an op-ed for The Washington Post

“Hiring Marc Short, the former White House legislative director, to help scholars understand the Trump presidency is like welcoming H.R. Haldeman into your university at the height of Watergate and asking him for insights into Nixon,” William Hitchcock and Melvyn Leffler wrote, comparing Short to President Nixon's chief of staff.

ADVERTISEMENT

The professors penned the editorial just two days after announcing their resignation at the Miller Center, a wing of the Charlottesville, Va.–based university that is focused on presidential history and public policy.

"Sure, he knows a thing or two. But is he a trustworthy guide?" they ask in the op-ed.  

Hitchcock and Leffler go on to slam both Short and the university for the hire throughout the piece, writing that Short receiving a senior fellowship "was different from previous appointments ... because Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls Sri Lankan prime minister following church bombings Ex-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' The biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone MORE is different from previous presidents." 

The two historians note that they do not believe working for Trump should bar someone from a fellowship at a university. But they assert that Short, who served as a legislative affairs director at the White House for more than a year, has "no record of scholarship to recommend him, nor has he demonstrated independence from Trump."

"In his recent work in the White House, Short has associated himself with ongoing attacks on a free media," they wrote. "He has associated himself with rhetoric and policies that have empowered and emboldened white supremacists and that have led to spectacular increases in racist and misogynistic talk and behavior in this country." 

The historians specifically note Short's response to the white supremacist rally that took place in Charlottesville nearly a year ago. The two historians ripped Short for not distancing himself from Trump's response to the event, which erupted in violence and led to the death of a 32-year-old woman. 

"To treat Marc Short as a trusted colleague in the pursuit of objective analysis would be a surrender to the forces of unreason and obfuscation that have fed the Trump presidency," the historians write. 

They add that "the issue at stake is larger than Short, who is just a foot soldier in this destructive presidency."

Their op-ed was written as the university faces growing scrutiny over its hiring of Short. An online petition to stop the school from hiring Short had over 3,200 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.

Despite leaving the policy center, the two professors will remain with the university as tenured faculty within the history department.