I recently attended a colloquium at Christ Church, Oxford, which was organised in utter secrecy, without any social media promotion. It was a fairly normal conference, without any protest, perhaps due to the secrecy beforehand.
I wrote about it, in The Federalist.
Nevertheless, the secrecy is what was the key takeaway from the colloquium, and perhaps a sign of things to come in Western academy. The Brits lack the enforceable legal right to free speech Americans enjoy. But as Joy Pullmann pointed out, this decolonize madness has now spread to Yale and Stanford, after Cambridge. Statues will be toppled and disciplines ruined, because of historical revisionism, and the whims of a certain section of scholars and academics who choose to act like Soviet commissars.
Oxford especially is under constant assault, as it remains the bastion of free speech, meritocracy and open research and has so far refused to cave in to egalitarian demands of affirmative action and censorship. But as revolutionary and activist tactics spread, secrecy seems to be the only option to continue research without the worry of mob violence.
I also had an opportunity to take an interview of Dr Nigel Biggar, when I was there, for Quillette Magazine.
It is now highly unlikely that I will choose to involve any of the signatories in the project, since I have no confidence in their readiness to engage in the reciprocal and forbearing exchange of reasons.
What is more, if I want to hold lectures or seminars on the topic of empire, I will do so privately, since I cannot be sure that my critics will behave civilly. On one occasion recently, I held a day-conference to discuss Bruce Gilley’s controversial article, “The Case for Colonialism,” and found myself having to use pseudonyms to hide the identities of some participants. One young scholar only attended on condition that his name nowhere appear on print, nor his face on any photograph, lest his senior colleagues find out and kill his career.