by Giulio Meotti
“The role of Admiral Nelson is under review in light of the Black Lives Matter movement”.The Naval Museum of Greenwich in London censored the story of the hero of Trafalgar. And by the same logic, the work of colonial historians is censored.
A professor was “canceled” for the second time in three years after his publisher withdrew a biography of a British imperialist following an academic petition. Bruce Gilley’s book, “The Last Imperialist: Sir Alan Burns’ Epic Defense of the British Empire”, was to be the first volume of a series published by Rowman & Littlefield and devoted to the colonies.
Gilley, who teaches at Portland State University, had achieved notoriety three years ago with the article “The Case for Colonialism”, in which he claimed that British colonial rule had also had important beneficial effects. The newspaper, Third World Quarterly, had withdrawn amid threats and protests, and the National Association of Scholars promptly posted the essay on their website.
Gilley’s new book passed through editing and proofreading by Lexington, which is part of Rowman & Littlefield, and received the endorsement of two major colonial history scholars, Jeremy Black and Tirthankar Roy. The book had already been sold to distributors.
Tirthankar Roy, professor of economic history at the London School of Economics, said in a letter to Lexington: “That the book could justify empires, whatever that idiotic expression means, never crossed my mind.” For Roy, that a group of academics in privileged Western universities can decide what gets published represents “true colonialism.”
“The Last Imperialist” was the culmination of five years of research into the life of Burns, the governor of Ghana. An academic petition sent to the publisher claimed the book would promote “white nationalism”.
Western history has also become a minefield in the newspapers. The New York Times had produced a series, “1619”, edited by Nikole Hannah-Jones, whose thesis is that America was born not in 1776, with the American Revoluion, but in 1619, with the arrival of the first African slave ship. Bret Stephens, a Times columnist like Hannah-Jones, wrote an article explaining that the “1619” project is a failure.and its premises “illogical.”.
The result? Unmindful of the recent resignations of James Bennet and Bari Weiss, the New York Times Guild, the newspaper’s union, publicly attacked Stephens for daring to criticize an article in their own newspaper.
Once upon a time there were the Havel and Klima pamphlets, Solzhenitsyn’s Cancer Ward and the Polish pirate edition of Orwell’s Animal Farm. Now there is a new democratic Index librorum prohibitorum that is increasingly enriched with crimes of treason against hypothetical “sensitivities”.
Western culture is at its lowest point.