Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Maoist Censorship and Cowardly Capitulation: The Bruce Gilley Affair, Part II

 On June 10, 2020, I posted a blog concerning the successful attempt to censor an article by Dr. Bruce Gilley defending colonialism.  You can find that blog here.   http://rhodahassmann.blogspot.com/2020/06/uncomfortablequestions-bruce-gilley.html

 I disagreed with much of what Dr. Gilley wrote in that article, but I defended his right to make his argument and have it published.

Recently, Dr. Gilley was appointed editor of a news series called “Problems of Anti-Colonialism’ for Lexington Books, an imprint of Rowman and Littlefield.  The first book in this series was to be a biography Gilley himself wrote of Sir Alan Burns, a governor of the Gold Coast (now Ghana).  The book was properly reviewed by two other scholars and recommended for publication.  Then over a thousand people signed a petition on Change.org against publication of the book. Despite a counter-petition initiated soon after and signed, as of today (October 20, 2020) by over 4400 people, Rowman and Littlefield “released” Gilley from his contract. 

Below is a letter I sent to Ms. Julie Kirsch, the Senior Vice-President and publisher of Rowman and Littlefield, via email on October 8, 2020. As of today, October 20, 2020, I have received no response.  I have added links that were not in the original email, but have not otherwise changed it. The content of the Wikipedia entry for Joshua Moufawad-Paul has changed since I first read it, and now contains a reference to my letter below.

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Ms. Julie Kirsch,

Senior Vice-President and Publisher,

Rowman and Littlefield

October 8, 2020

 

Dear Ms. Kirsch,

I am writing to express my extreme concern to you upon learning that Rowman and Littlefield has cancelled publication of Dr. Bruce Gilley's book, The Last Imperialist: Sir Alan Burns’ Epic Defense of the British Empire, and has also cancelled his editorship of a new series to be called Problems of Anti-Colonialism. 

The reason for this cancellation appears to be a petition on Change.org. entitled “Bruce Gilley’s Colonial Apologetics,” (https://www.change.org/p/academics-against-bruce-gilley-s-colonial-apologetics) organized by one Joshua Moufawad-Paul, who is identified by Wikipedia as a professor of philosophy at York University in Canada, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Moufawad-Paulalthough I cannot find a listing for him on that department’s website. (https://phil.laps.yorku.ca/faculty-staff/contract-faculty/) He is also listed in his Wikipedia entry as a Maoist.  I hope that this is not accurate. A Maoist is someone who follows the teaching of Mao Tse-Tung.  Mao Tse-Tung was one of history's most egregious murderers, responsible, for example, for the deaths of 30 to 45 million people during China's so-called agricultural Great Leap Forward (1958-62).  Mao also favoured censorship: during the Great Leap Forward peasants and journalists, indeed even children, who protested Mao's policies were tortured to death or executed in various horrible manners. (https://www.amazon.com/State-Food-Crimes-Rhoda-Howard-Hassmann/dp/1107589967 , pp. 27-33).

If Mr. Moufawad-Paul is indeed a Maoist, then it would be consistent with his ideological beliefs to wish to censor Dr. Gilley's writings.  I do not know if he read Dr. Gilley's article, “The Case for Colonialism,” which stirred controversy in 2017. Nor do I know if he, or any of the signatories of the Change.org petition to which Roman and Littlefield appears to have capitulated, have read the book in question. I do know that the Change.org petition is full of misinformation. Indeed, it appears to me that one of the statements in this petition, the claim that Dr. Gilley “endorses a white nationalist perspective,” is libelous.

I, on the other hand, have read Dr. Gilley's original article. I attach a copy of a piece I published in the newsletter of Canada's Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship about it. (http://safs.ca/newsletters/article.php?article=1060) I am also the author of Colonialism and Underdevelopment in Ghana (Croom Helm, 1978), and I do not agree with Dr. Gilley's defense of colonialism. (https://books.google.ca/books/about/Colonialism_and_Underdevelopment_in_Ghan.html?id=npQoAQAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y ) I do believe, however, that he had a right to publish this article. Others who believed this were Dr, Martin Klein, a distinguished historian of Africa who, like me, disagreed with much of what Dr. Gilley argued, and Noam Chomsky.

I have not read The Last Imperialist, but had Lexington published it and had I read it, I suspect I would find it interesting but nevertheless disagree with some or all of it. 

I am also the author of Human Rights in Commonwealth Africa, published in 1986 by Rowman and Littlefield. ( https://www.amazon.ca/Human-Rights-Commonwealth-Africa-Howard/dp/0847674339) Mr. Matthew Held, an editor at Rowman and Littlefield at the time, encouraged me to submit this manuscript to you. This book is very critical of the human rights practices and policies of post-colonial African rulers in nine English-speaking African countries. I am now wondering if you would be willing to publish such a volume today, given your apparent reaction to a petition signed by over a thousand people, the vast majority of whom, I suspect, did not read Dr. Gilley's original controversial article or his book. Perhaps they would find my human-rights perspective indicative of white nationalism.

There is now a counter-petition on Change.org, inaugurated by the (U.S.) National Association of Scholars. (https://www.change.org/p/rowman-littlefield-publishing-group-vindicate-dr-bruce-gilley-s-personal-and-professional-reputation?recruiter=37142265&utm_source=share_petition&utm_med ) I have chosen not to sign it, preferring to write this letter to you instead. However, I agreed with the gist of this petition, especially the call for you to apologize to Dr Gilley, to vindicate his scholarly reputation, and to-re-commit Rowman and Littlefield to publication of The Last Imperialist and the series on problems of anti-colonialism.

I am copying this letter to Dr. Gilley for his information. He did not request that I send this letter to you, nor did he in any way influence its content. However, he has my permission to circulate this letter to you as he sees fit. 

I am also attaching a one-page professional biography. You will note that I have received several academic awards for my work on human rights. Freedom of speech is a core human right.  By your apparent capitulation to a call for censorship on Change.org, you have undermined freedom of speech.

Yours sincerely,

Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann

Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science,

Wilfrid Laurier University

Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights 2003-16

Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

 

 

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