A professor at Portland State is facing a university investigation over a journal article he published that offered a positive perspective on colonialism.
Portland State University Professor Bruce Gilley is now facing a university investigation over a 2017 academic journal article entry that praised acts of colonialism. Breitbart News originally covered Gilley’s story in September.
A journal article entitled, “The Case for Colonialism,” by Bruce Gilley, an associate professor of political science at Portland State University, has spurred an international backlash. Scholars from around the globe are demanding that the journal who published Gilley’s work retract the article, and others have called for Gilley’s alma mater to revoke his degree.
The article was published in Third World Quarterly, a journal which focuses on the development of third world countries. A petition, which has garnered over 10,000 signatures, demands that the journal retract the entry, claiming that it serves to justify the “brutalizing” of “those who have suffered under colonialism.”
Now, months later, Gilley is facing an investigation from Portland State over the article. According to Gilley, the investigation is the result of a harassment complaint filed by students who were upset with Gilley’s political positions.
“The university is obligated to investigate any claims of discrimination and harassment made by students, faculty, and staff,” a Portland State spokesperson explained in a statement. “This investigation is not politically motivated, nor is it an investigation of the article.”
Interviewed last week for the Chronicle, Gilley spoke about how the experience revealed to him a looming issue in higher education.
“It was a very hostile campus environment, to be sure,” Gilley said. “The university put out a statement that said, in effect, I can’t be fired, I have tenure. Basically, their support for an academic conducting research who was being attacked by totalitarian ideologues was, ‘Sorry, we can’t fire this guy.’ In my view, that was disgraceful.”
The interviewer asked Gilley to refute an argument from a critic that compared colonialism to genocide. The critic explained that because an academic journal editor would reject an article advocating for genocide, they must also reject articles advocating for colonialism.
It’s an absurd analogy. Genocide, I think everyone would agree, is a moral wrong. There’s absolutely no plausible philosophical argument that one group of people establishing authority over another is an inherent moral wrong. Human history is all about alien rule. The Crees ruled most people in the Midwest. The Muganda controlled most of the people in central Africa. Alien rule is how history has always worked, and it’s how it’s continued to work in postcolonial periods.
Although Gilley has received support from notable leftists such as Noam Chomsky, it is likely that Gilley, like many other professors around the country, will face continued scrutiny at Portland State for refusing to toe the progressive line.