Vindicate Dr. Bruce Gilley's Personal and Professional Reputation
This petition had 4,569 supporters
The publisher Rowman & Littlefield has recently succumbed to cancel culture. Rowman & Littlefield’s Lexington Books imprint had agreed to publish Bruce Gilley’s The Last Imperialist: Sir Alan Burns’ Epic Defense of the British Empire (October 2020) as the first of a planned series, Problems of Anti-Colonialism. About a month after the book was announced, a Change.org petition was begun by an avowed Maoist revolutionary and attracted several hundred co-signing aspiring censors. The petition demanded that Rowman & Littlefield cease publication of Gilley’s book. A mere two days later, Rowman & Littlefield removed both the book and the series from its website without explanation. The publisher has since released Dr. Gilley from his book contract and canceled the series, both also without explanation.
Rowman & Littlefield’s surrender furthers the assault on academic freedom in the United States and abroad. Bruce Gilley is a scholar of spotless personal and professional reputation. The academics and activists who sought to censor him acted on purely political grounds. Bruce Gilley is already persona non grata among authoritarian leftists because he published the article “The Case for Colonialism”—and re-published it with the National Association of Scholars after Third World Quarterly succumbed to a previous bout of cancel culture complaints and threats, ultimately deleting the article. The petition’s signers further seek to silence Professor Gilley because Problems of Anti-Colonialism will subject their ideas to critical inquiry:
"Anti-colonialism emerged in the late 19th century as a critique of European empires and colonial administrations throughout the Third World. The attack on European imperialism grew into a post-World War II program of decolonization that transformed global politics. A narrative of celebratory decolonization spawned a broader program of change in domestic and international politics. Anti-colonial, decolonizing, and post-colonial narratives insisted on negative portrayals of Western colonialism, amnesia about non- Western colonialism, Western guilt about colonial pasts, rapturous accounts of decolonization, and utopian claims of post-colonial futures. The baleful empirical consequences of these ideas for human welfare have been either ignored, denied, or merely assumed away. Today, anti-colonial attitudes continue to constrain policy choices in the former colonial world. Governments in former colonial powers (mainly Britain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and Italy) as well as in Anglo- settlement colonies (the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) face movements seeking to “decolonize” their modern institutions and policies, and to debase their historical records.
Problems of Anti-Colonialism aims to reignite debate through a critical examination of the anti-colonial, decolonizing, and post-colonial projects. It embraces contributions in fields as wide as history, area studies, international relations, political science, social science methods, public policy, comparative development, economics, education, culture, communications, sociology, anthropology, ethics, moral philosophy, and theology. By raising questions about the normative and empirical validity of anti-colonialism in all its forms, the series seeks to stimulate debate on issues, topics, and movements that have advanced in the absence of critical and scientific inquiry. In so doing, it invites fresh research into Western colonialism itself -- past, present, and future."
Gilley’s professionalism is not at issue. What is at issue is his freedom to speak and write freely—and the freedom of every scholar and interested citizen to hear and read his arguments. Gilley’s censors fear the facts—as does every sect that seeks to substitute its dogma for the truth.
We, the undersigned, affirm Bruce Gilley’s professional and personal character. We affirm the scholarly value of his work. We affirm the value of academic freedom, which must never be subordinated to ideologically motivated censorship.
We call on Rowman & Littlefield to apologize for its cancellation of The Last Imperialist, and of the Problems of Anti-Colonialism series.
Because the petition that led to the cancellation of The Last Imperialist and the book series to which it belongs presents an assault on Gilley’s character, we also call on Rowman & Littlefield to publish its own vindication of Dr. Gilley as an honest and reputable scholar. And because, by acting on that petition, Rowman & Littlefield showed its susceptibility to tactics of intellectual bullying, it is essential that the publisher re-commit itself to the principles of academic freedom.
We note that several individual signatories of the cancel culture petition against Gilley suggested a boycott of some sort against Rowman & Littlefield. Such boycotts are antithetical to academic freedom. An academic press ought to glory in publishing scholars who disagree vigorously with one another. Yet we also wish Rowman & Littlefield to realize that it has now compromised its reputation for impartiality and will have to work hard to regain the trust of the scholarly community.
Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology
Director, McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life
University of Oxford
Associate Professor, History
Tier II Canada Research Chair in Digital Humanities
John T. Broom
Associate Program Director of Academics, Graduate History Programs
College of Graduate and Continuing Studies
Professor Emeritus, Political Science
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Professor, Business Economics and Public Policy
Kelley School of Business
Stephen E Bennett
Emeritus Faculty, Political Science
University of Cincinnati
Professor, Education Policy
University of Edinburgh
Loyd S. Pettegrew
Professor Emeritus, Department of Communication
University of South Florida
Emeritus Professor, Centre for Environmental and Occupational Health Research
School of Public Health & Family Medicine
University of Cape Town
Retired Professor, Philosophy
The University of Alabama
Rolf Erik Scott
Researcher, Social Anthropology
University of Bergen
Philip Carl Salzman
Emeritus Professor, Anthropology
John E. R. Staddon
James B. Duke Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Psychology and Neuroscience
Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Justice, and Policy Studies
Mount Royal University
Jeffrey C. Kinkley
Retired Professor, History
St. John's University
Research Professor, Social Theory
Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology
Chair, Council of Scholars
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Central Connecticut State University
Scott A. Metzger
Associate Professor, Social Studies Education
The Pennsylvania State University
Amy L. Wax
Robert Mundheim Professor of Law
University of Pennsylvania Law School
Rachel Fulton Brown
Associate Professor, History
The University of Chicago
Distinguished Teaching Professor, Philosophy
State University of New York at Fredonia
Assistant Professor, Philosophy
Portland State University
University of London
Emeritus Professor, Sociology Associate, Centre for Parenting Culture Studies
University of Kent
Research Fellow, School of Public Health
University of Cape Town
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