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Publisher Backs Away From Prof’s Book After Pressure From Cancel Culture Agitators

Publisher Backs Away From Prof’s Book After Pressure From Cancel Culture Agitators

“The cancellations began Sept. 26 with a petition that snowballed on social media.”

Professor Bruce Gilley teaches political science at Portland State University. His publisher has backed away from him after pressure from a self-described Maoist.

Gilley has been through similar experiences before now, and we have covered it.

He writes at the Wall Street Journal:

The Cancel Mob Comes Back for More

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.

This erasure is very similar to my first, in 2017, when the publisher Taylor & Francis withdrew my peer-reviewed article “The Case for Colonialism” from the journal Third World Quarterly. The journal’s editor had received “serious and credible threats of personal violence” following a global petition campaign led by Farhana Sultana of Syracuse University (who also tried to get Princeton to revoke my doctorate). I consented to the withdrawal in the interest of the safety of the editorial staff.

“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.


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JusticeDelivered | October 9, 2020 at 5:18 pm

I guess that those who run cancel campaigns need to be sued, and subjected to being canceled themselves. Only blow back will cure this problem.

This is very sad. When a scholar draws conclusions from a multi-year study of primary source materials, peer review should properly ask if the conclusions are supported by the evidence. That is, could a person who was living in the 1950s actually hold the views that are summarized in the new scholarly work? The question is NOT whether someone with 21st century sensibilities would hold those same views. After World War I and again after World War II, Western nations struggled with the goal of self-determination in a world filled with geo-political power plays. No solution available in the 1950s and 1960s was perfect, and objective scholarly debate should be welcomed. How did the World get Idi Amin and other third world leaders?

If you disagree with Burns or how Gilley interprets Burns, then put your time into scholarship that takes a different view. Do NOT put that time into threatening the life of journal editors or calling up the book publisher.

It’s clear that the Maoist philosopher (and the rabble he roused on social media) said or implied that they would boycott the publisher if they didn’t cancel Gilley’s books.

I hope that Gilley sues the publisher and the instigator, and forces the truth out in the open. I also hope that people who believe in free speech will decline to buy anything from Lexington Books or Rowman & Littlefield, and will tell the company why.

I suspect that free speech advocates can whip up as much social media activity as a leftist philosopher and his followers.