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How the hate mob tried to silence me
December 2017 / January 2018

As it so happened, three weeks before my “viewpoint” essay was published in TWQ, the journal published a “viewpoint” essay by Prashad arguing that the term “imperialism” needs to be applied to all Western interactions with the Third World. When questions arose about whether my article had passed peer review, the publishers undertook a lengthy investigation and reported that “in line with the journal’s policy” the article was put through double-blind peer review before being published. One would assume, therefore, that the same was true of Prashad’s essay. It was not. My colleagues at the National Association of Scholars chapter in Connecticut confirmed that Prashad’s essay was published without peer review.

Not that this matters substantively. For a journal whose readers and reviewers generally lean far to the Left, it probably would have been a mere formality. It is a wonderful irony that the same critics who reject science, objectivity and empiricism (as Prashad does in his essay) as covers for “the imperial mindset” set such store by it when a heterodox opinion appears, and apparently give it little thought when a beloved comrade weighs in with another stirring denunciation of the West.

In the end, my essay was withdrawn because Indian anti-colonial fanatics made death threats against Qadir. This “suppression of research findings on blatantly political grounds”, wrote the University of Buckingham historian and academic ethics specialist Geoffrey Alderman, suggests “we have indeed stumbled into a very dark place”. This is no understatement. “L’affaire TWQ” is about much more than one article. It is not even mainly about the substantive debate on colonialism, which reasonable people can disagree about. Rather, it is about a worrying loss of faith in the liberal and pluralistic norms that made the West. The rot is now so deep that that it extends well beyond the academy and into the virtual social spaces where, like it or not, most people’s political views are formed.

In a strange way, then, “The Case for Colonialism” has unintentionally became a case for the recolonisation of the West by its own liberal traditions. The pluralism, free inquiry and reasoned debate on which Western civilisation is built face fanaticisms from both the Left and Right. The non-totalitarian centre is shrinking. A very dark place indeed.

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July 23rd, 2018
3:07 PM
@sam butler great blog. @Bruce Gilley: hero. You sir have given me a new direction in life. A new respect for my ancestors and myself. I am a proud barbarian and I will build the hoard. Fear us.

January 6th, 2018
5:01 PM
According to the journal website the article went through double blind peer review. HELLER DOES NOT MENTION THIS IN HIS COMMENT ABOVE.

Prof. Kevin Heller
December 27th, 2017
11:12 AM
Not surprisingly, the author fails to mention that, according to the 15 members of TWQ's Editorial Board that resigned, the article did not pass peer review, but was in fact rejected by three separate reviewers, including one that was given the essay after it had already been rejected by the editors of the Special issue in question.

Prof. Kevin Jon Heller
December 27th, 2017
8:12 AM
Call me crazy, but ignoring all of the substantive criticism of the essay and arguing "some of my best friends are colonial peoples" might not be the most effective rhetorical strategy.

Sam Butler
December 20th, 2017
3:12 PM
I'm grateful to Bruce Gilley for his bravery. Here's a minor contribution to the debate:

Lawrence Jamess
December 5th, 2017
8:12 AM
I have encountered many Indians who appreciate the value of British rule. Its denigrators are most Indian academics who have created a cosy myth of a stable progressive pre-imperial sib-continent. One assumes, perhaps wickedly, that they would be happy to see the return of dacoits, the cults of thagi and sati, and the rule of a Muslim dynasty,

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