On Columbus Day, the Washington Post Details Blowback from PSU Professor’s Controversial Essay Defending Colonialism

Bruce Gilley agreed to withdraw his essay after outcry. Journal's editor faced “credible threats of personal violence."

Bruce Gilley

Bruce Gilley, an associate professor of political science at Portland State University, is making a name for himself on a campus known for its leftward leanings.

Related: Portland is home to the most liberal college in America. No, not that one.

Today, when some calendars still tell us it's Columbus Day, the Washington Post reports that Gilley came under heavy fire for a recent journal article titled "The Case for Colonialism," which he wrote last month for the journal Third World Quarterly.

"Gilley's essay argued that countries that were colonized by Western powers 'did better' than those that were not. He also said that colonialism was generally 'beneficial' and 'subjectively legitimate.' The essay's abstract said: 'For the last 100 years, Western colonialism has had a bad name. It is high time to question this orthodoxy," the Post reports.

Gilley's stance prompted immediate blowback from many of his peers.

"Fifteen members of the journal's 34-member board resigned in protest, and two petitions demanded that the journal retract the piece," the Post reports.

The journal's editor, Shahid Qadir, received what the journal's publisher termed "credible threats of personal violence"

The Chronicle of Higher Education, which earlier reported on the controversy over Gilley's piece, says that amid that response, Gilley requested his essay be withdrawn.

"I regret the pain and anger that it has caused for many people," Gilley wrote in a statement. "I hope that this action will allow a more civil and caring discussion on this important issue to take place."

Gilley, who studied at Oxford and earned his Ph.D at Princeton, made news in academic circles earlier this year when he wrote another essay, explaining his decision to resign from the American Political Science Association.

Gilley quit after the APSA declined his proposal for a panel discussion on "Viewpoint Diversity in Political Science," at the organization's annual conference in San Francisco. After looking at the panels the group did accept, he came to the conclusion the program exhibited "APSA's serious lack of political diversity."

He blames a shift attributable to political scientists educated in the 1960s and 1970s. "APSA turned from being a fairly pluralistic and professional-oriented body into a shock force for the latest thought liberations of the left," Gilley writes. "Today, APSA has become barely distinguishable from the Democratic Party and its far-left wing. Its web page runs a constant stream of anti-Trump or anti-Republican news."

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