This was written a while back, and part become an item in the Insanity & Doom update. I would have trashed it, except that since the events detailed below, Gilley gave some interviews on the matter and here. The pertinent part for us is that Gilley is being investigated by his university because—wait for it—some students complained. His crime? I’ll let you figure that out. It’s doubtful any student even read the paper. You wonder how many of them can even read.
It’s not only a good swathe of college students who are mollycoddled overly sensitive ears-in-fingers intolerant know-nothings who demand and erect barricades blocking them from facts and ideas that hurt their feelings. Many professors are the same way.
Take how professors reacted when Bruce Gilley wrote and published “The case for colonialism” in Third World Quarterly.
He dared to say that “Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found.” And he said, “The countries that embraced their colonial inheritance, by and large, did better than those that spurned it.”
Worst of all was this: “Anti-colonial ideology imposed grave harms on subject peoples and continues to thwart sustained development and a fruitful encounter with modernity in many places.”
His work was greeted with all the calm and courtesy of certain religious leaders who learned Jesus performed a miracle on the sabbath. Many academics emulated the less sanitary habits of monkeys deprived of their bananas. It was a full Level Five freakout.
Fifteen academics who served on the board of the journal resigned. Thousands more circulated a petition demanding not only the paper be retracted (burning e-journals not being an option), but insisting Gilley, and anybody who had even heard of Gilley, apologize.
This wasn’t the end of it. No, sir. Some bloodthirsty clowns threatened the journal editor with bodily harm. So horrifying and persistent were the threats, that the journal tucked its tail firmly between its legs, yanked the paper, and issued a fear-filled Withdrawal Notice.
The paper made no identifiable error, used no false sources. It passed through peer review. It’s not even clear if there was so much as a typo.
But still it was crammed down the memory hole by the publisher Taylor & Francis because the journal editor “received serious and credible threats of personal violence…linked to the publication of this essay” (emphasis added).
The retraction was not a smart move.
What Taylor & Francis might have done is announced they were working with law enforcement to find, prosecute, and punish the criminals making the threats. Or, since law enforcement did not appear especially interested in their pursuit, T&P could have announced they were hiring private investigators to find the brutes.
What Taylor & Francis should have done is followed the example of Christian professor Mike Adams. When he receives a threat on his person, he responds by offering the criminal the choice of weapons Adams will defend himself him.
What Taylor & Francis should not have done is run away from the fight. Why?
We now suspect that any future paper published at this journal, and probably at any journal controlled by the publishing giant, will either have met the test of ideological purity or it will be a banality. Why bother reading anything they print?
The criminals who issued the threats, and their would-be emulators, must feel pretty good about themselves. “Hey, who should we threaten next?” they are surely saying to themselves, “It worked before. Why shouldn’t it work again?”
That’s true. Why shouldn’t it?
Even if no future threats appear, there is always self-censorship to look forward to. What academic would depart from progressive dogma and commit the secular heresy of saying colonialism was not always evil?
Self-censorship is already here. Hiding and keeping quiet is what even moderate professors must do on many campuses.
Rajshree Agarwal, who is by no means a denizen of the right, learnt her lesson. She was asked at an academic conference “what businesses can do to create social value.” She said, “They can do good business.”
My research supports this defense of profit, and I was ready to engage in civil discourse. Instead, two colleagues turned on me. “Milton Friedman, are we?” the first person said. “Didn’t you take money from the evil Koch brothers?” the other added…
Agarwal is the founding director of the Ed Snider Center. She said “faculty members who have aligned interests do not want to publicly associate with the Snider Center, for fear of retribution from colleagues.”
Rod Dreher published letters from two professors who expose the sad state of ideological conformity.
The first remarked on “a significant shift since the last election.”
One colleague wanted to confirm that I didn’t vote for Trump — he wasn’t sure how he could work with someone who did. Another noted how she was checking Facebook and Instagram to make sure she didn’t take on any students who were Trump supporters.
The second quit academics.
I saw the increasingly taken-for-granted “all life as praxis” presumption (read: research ought to be political activism; teaching ought to be political activism; mentorship ought to be political activism; scholarship ought to be political activism; parenthood ought to be political activism; etc.) to be a betrayal of the best traditions both of the Humboldtian university and of the institutions that preceded it in western history.
Those doing the purging don’t see their actions as a betrayal, of course. They look forward to the future, where each professor believes only what he’s told to believe.