An academic journal has removed an essay that made “The Case for Colonialism” after the journal editor allegedly received “credible threats of personal violence.”
“The Case for Colonialism,” written by Portland State University political science professor Bruce Gilley and published in Third World Quarterly, made the case that “countries that embraced their colonial inheritance, by and large, did better than those that spurned it.”
Since supporting Western colonialism is a taboo — as Gilley points out in his abstract — the essay was immediately met with pushback. More than 10,000 people signed a change.org petition calling for the editor of Third World Quarterly and the journal publisher to retract the article.
The summary of the “The Case for Colonialism” piece on the Taylor & Francis website (which publishes Third World Quarterly) now shows a “WITHDRAWAL NOTICE.” The withdrawal notice mentions that while the essay went through double-blind peer review, it was being taken down due to threats of violence:
This Viewpoint essay has been withdrawn at the request of the academic journal editor, and in agreement with the author of the essay. Following a number of complaints, Taylor & Francis conducted a thorough investigation into the peer review process on this article. Whilst this clearly demonstrated the essay had undergone double-blind peer review, in line with the journal's editorial policy, the journal editor has subsequently received serious and credible threats of personal violence. These threats are linked to the publication of this essay. As the publisher, we must take this seriously. Taylor & Francis has a strong and supportive duty of care to all our academic editorial teams, and this is why we are withdrawing this essay.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports Gilley wrote on his own website, “I regret the pain and anger that it has caused for many people.” However, Minding the Campus claims Gilley now regrets the decision to have the article pulled.
Despite the outrage the article created, academics have been standing against the publisher’s decision to pull the piece:
Wow. "The Case for Colonialism" was a bad essay, but journal editors should never be pressured with violent threats into withdrawing pieces. pic.twitter.com/aubXbOb2wB— Alexander Lanoszka (@ALanoszka) October 8, 2017
Shocking. That controversial TWQ article finally withdrawn due to threatened violence against the editor. Mob rule.https://t.co/GUQ2cKae9C— Lee Jones (@DrLeeJones) October 8, 2017
Every so called leftist who participated in this witch hunt should hang their heads in shame. You make me sick.— Lee Jones (@DrLeeJones) October 8, 2017
Thug-Review, n: a post Peer Review practice where threats of violence to life, limb, reputation & livelihood determine academic publication. pic.twitter.com/jOICrOiWeu— Eric Weinstein (@EricRWeinstein) October 9, 2017
This is deeply depressing. But rational historical debate on the costs & benefits of empire has long been repudiated by the illiberal left. https://t.co/tGifUd2g2d— Niall Ferguson (@nfergus) October 10, 2017
This article is terrible. But need to retract it because of credible threats to the life of the editor is even worse. pic.twitter.com/C5NTZzhfLH— Yascha Mounk (@Yascha_Mounk) October 10, 2017
Is it "even worse"? Good to know that promoting colonialist violence against whole ethnicities < threatening individual violence 🤔 https://t.co/nuUIIuebNt— Marie I (@magneticcrotch) October 10, 2017
Yes. Yes, Marie, threatening to kill someone is worse than making a terrible argument in an academic journal. Is that so hard to see? 🤔 https://t.co/Fr6bySqYHX— Yascha Mounk (@Yascha_Mounk) October 10, 2017
It should be noted that while many of the supporters of academic freedom point to liberals who have created the threats against Gilley and the journal editor, Gilley has been public about how he believes the American Political Science Association has become “barely distinguishable from the Democratic Party and its far-left wing.”
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