Education

Noam Chomsky Defends Embattled ‘Pro-Colonialist’ Professor Against Censorship

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Ian Miles Cheong Contributor

Noam Chomsky has leapt to the defense of Bruce Gilley, a political science professor at Portland State University following, following withering criticism and calls for censorship against him for defending colonialism.

As The Daily Caller previously reported on September 18, Portland State University is being slammed for sheltering Gilley, who made a case for colonialism in an article for the scholarly publication Third World Quarterly.

In his article, titled “The case for colonialism,” Gilley argued that it was necessary to question the orthodox view of Western colonialism as a net negative. “Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those concepts,” he wrote. “The countries that embraced their colonial inheritance, by and large, did better than those who spurned it.”

The professor decried “anti-colonial ideology” for imposing “Grave harms on subject peoples and continues to thwart sustained development and a fruitful encounter with modernity in many places.”

Gilley, who is facing a professional blacklist for his article, has since requested a withdrawal for his article from the publication because he regrets “The pain and anger it has caused for many people,” per the College Fix earlier this week.

On Monday, TWQ editor-in-chief Shahid Qadir defended the publication’s decision to run the piece, saying it went through a double-blind peer review protest and that he intended to run opposing viewpoints. He added that the publication wasn’t endorsing Gilley’s views, but is instead “presenting it to be debated within the field and academy, which this justifiably has been.”

Members of the publication’s editorial board disputed Qadir’s claim to say that it was not published with their input. 15 of them resigned in protest.

Chomsky, who is a member of the editorial board at the peer-reviewed Third World Quarterly, said that he opposes censorship and public demands for the article’s retraction because it opens “dangerous doors.” He made his remarks to College Fix in an article on Thursday.

His comments follow the resignations of his colleagues, who ironically claimed that Gilley’s article violated the “very principle of free speech” by causing “offense and hurt.”

The prominent MIT linguist, who disagreed with the mass resignation, said that he would like to see an explanation and an apology from TWQ editor-in-chief Shahid Qadir for the journal’s handling over the matter.

“Journals often don’t follow proper procedure,” he said. “In such a case, the editor [Qadir] should explain and apologize publicly, as I assume he will. I don’t think that that’s a sufficient reason to destroy a journal — the likely consequence of mass resignation.”

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.