'Credible threats' lead to removal of pro-colonialism article

A peer-reviewed academic journal article defending colonialism was removed due to threats of violence against the editor just days before Columbus Day

The publisher had previously refused to retract the article despite intense criticism from other academics, but said it has a "duty of care" to its editorial teams that necessitated withdrawing the article.

Just days before Columbus Day, an academic journal pulled a controversial article defending colonialism in response to threats of violence.

The journal’s publisher, Taylor & Francis, replaced the article with a notation that the content had been removed because “the journal editor has subsequently received serious and credible threats of personal violence.”

[RELATED: Profs petition to get pro-colonialism article retracted]

“The Case for Colonialism” was written by Bruce Gilley, a political science professor at Portland State University, and immediately sparked criticism and outrage.

Almost 7,000 people signed a petition calling for the journal to apologize and retract the article entirely, and nearly 11,000 people signed a similar petition, prompting 15 of the 34-member board to resign.

[RELATED: Publisher apologizes, refuses to take down colonialism essay]

Before the threats, however, the publisher had steadfastly refused to remove the article, releasing a statement declaring that “peer-reviewed research articles cannot simply be withdrawn but must have grounds for retraction,” with the firm’s president explaining that “These parameters exist in order to keep the scholarly record intact and so academic discourse cannot be shaped by any one opinion.”

Despite defending the article against substantive criticisms, however, Taylor & Francis finally capitulated when confronted with threats.

“As the publisher, we must take this seriously,” the company explained, saying it “has a strong and supportive duty of care to all our academic editorial teams, and this is why we are withdrawing this essay.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @KyleOnCampus