Today in cancel culture we return to the story of Bruce Gilley, a political scientist at Portland State University who has committed the heresy of saying some favorable things about colonialism. I wrote here in 2017 about the uproar over his academic journal article “The Case for Colonialism,” which a journal had to retract after it received death threats, among other things. I met Gilley for lunch shortly after that on a trip that passed through Portland, and I was delighted to find out that Prof. Gilley assigns one of my journal articles for a class he teaches on modern political thought. If defending colonialism didn’t get him in trouble with the Wokerati, this transgression surely would!
Today Gilley reports in the Wall Street Journal that Lexington Books, a solid academic imprint that often publishes conservative authors, has canceled his forthcoming book because of the predictably tedious intolerance of the campus left. From the sound of things, Lexington has already printed the book, and will now have to eat the printing costs for this cowardice.
Here’s some of Prof. Gilley’s account in case you aren’t able to get past the WSJ paywall:
For the second time in my academic career, I have been canceled. Last week Lexington Books, the academic imprint of the publisher Rowman & Littlefield, decided not to publish my forthcoming biography of a late colonial official, “The Last Imperialist: Sir Alan Burns’ Epic Defense of the British Empire.” It came a mere two weeks before the book was due to ship. At the same time, Lexington Books canceled the new book series, “Problems of Anti-Colonialism,” of which my book was to be the first installment.
The cancellations began Sept. 26 with a petition that snowballed on social media. It was started by Joshua Moufawad-Paul, an avowed Maoist philosopher in Toronto whose blog is titled “Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Mayhem!” and books include “The Communist Necessity.” By Sept. 28 all mention of my book had been air-brushed from the publisher’s site without a word to me. For two days, I sought explanation and received only silence. I requested they return to me the rights to the book, which they quickly did. Lexington then canceled the book series without explanation. . .
“The Last Imperialist” is the culmination of five years of intensive primary source research into the life of Burns, who was governor of the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and a prominent critic of rapid decolonization while serving at the United Nations after World War II. The book passed peer review with Lexington Books last December, and it carried endorsements from two giants in the field of colonial history, Jeremy Black and Tirthankar Roy. The book was already being sold to distributors and stores.
The series, “Problems of Anti-Colonialism,” of which I was a co-editor, had also gone through a peer-review process. The series was planned as a forum for critical responses to the anticolonial and “decolonizing” intellectual projects that have become pervasive in global politics (and maybe in your workplace). My co-editor and I had received an eager response from young scholars in Africa and South Asia, where the elder generation’s anticolonialism has long since worn thin. . .
Read the whole thing if you can. Incidentally, I’ll have more to say in due course about how the intelligentsia in developing countries do not see things at all the way our campus Wokerati do. I’m gathering testimonies and some data on the point. I just need the 50-hour day to execute this project along with the rest of my long list.
Meanwhile, I was delighted to find out that Prof. Diana Schaub of Loyola University in Maryland is a visiting professor this fall in the Government department at Harvard. Prof. Schaub is one of the nation’s leading scholars on racial issues in American politics, in particular writing with insight about Malcolm X, as well as Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr, along with lots and lots of first-rate thoughts about Lincoln. But she’s a conservative, so naturally the Wokerati at Harvard are demanding that she be fired.
Here’s what a student wrote about Schaub in the Harvard Crimson this week:
This semester Harvard has also employed Diana J. Schaub, who has a history of controversial beliefs, as a visiting professor in the Government Department. In one essay, Schaub states that the decline of Black people in professional baseball is due to the “absence of fathers in the black community.” In another, Schaub argues that “the contemporary phenomenon of angry middle-class blacks derives in substantial part from the erosion of both Bible-based faith and faith in Progress.” And in another, she argued Baltimore’s declining population is due to a low marriage rate and high abortion rate, particularly among African Americans. These essays are, if not outright bigoted, ignorant, and deeply concerning.
Some might think that prior writings on one particular set of issues might not necessarily be relevant in a classroom setting. But the problem is Schaub’s work on that set of issues is key to the class she’s teaching. Part of her research focuses on African American political thought. Harvard hired her to teach a course on African American political thought. How can Schaub successfully teach such a course if her academic work reveals that she holds such bigoted views of African Americans? And it seems she has already made students uncomfortable with her remarks in class. . .
So, what Harvard must do now is simple. Fire Kane and Schaub, and any other faculty member with similar unacceptable views. Then, establish a proper vetting system that prevents the hiring of others like them.
Never mind this completely tendentious rendering of Schaub’s views. Harvard should be embarrassed by this twin display of ignorance and intolerance.