June 10, 2023

New Rules to Deal with an ‘Offensive’ Professor


Leftists have always had a problem with dissent. People who don’t go along with all of the agenda for social transformation might be banished, sent to re-education camps, or shot.

Our colleges can’t do any of that, but they have just as little regard for dissenters as did the Soviets. The case of Portland State political science professor Bruce Gilley is enlightening, and in today’s Martin Center article, Jay Schalin writes about it.

Back in 2017, Gilley wrote an article that was published in an academic journal. In it, he argued that colonialism wasn’t all bad. But the “progressive” world-view insists that it was all bad, since white people have done nothing but ruin the lives of native peoples everywhere. A firestorm erupted over the article, with many leftist professors demanding that it be retracted.

Gilley wasn’t silenced, however. As Schalin writes, “He has continued to write articles questioning the accepted orthodoxy in his field—and has added activities such as defending free expression on campus, calling for the reform of university governance, and speaking out on matters of public policy. As can be expected, these pursuits are not ingratiating him on campus and off any more than his 2017 article did.”

The political science department has decided to write new rules for department members. (Gilley has tenure, so they can’t just send him off to Siberia.) Schalin finds the third such resolution to be particularly disturbing. He writes, “It offers a path for politicized faculty members to ‘police’ colleagues whose research or speech does not pass ideological tests. The actual process approved by the political science department is chilling: a single faculty member with an axe to grind against another can propose a statement of condemnation against the other’s extramural statements. The statement is secretly sent to, first, the department head, and then to all other faculty except the one who is under attack. The decision to proceed is made according to a consensus of the department, without the controversial member’s knowledge.”

In short, the Thought Police have arrived.

Schalin concludes, “Portland State is a public university; it does not belong to those who work there for a time, but to the people of the state. It should be open to all who abide by the rules of scholarship without fear of denunciation from his or her ideological opposites”.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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