At the beginning of this year I wrote about an Oxford controversy over ‘imperialism’, focussing on the stick that Professor Nigel Biggar was getting over his proposal to institute a university post-graduate seminar on ‘The Ethics of Empire’, which appeared to open an opportunity to those who wanted to argue that British imperialism was not unethical per se. Here it is. https://bernardjporter.com/2018/01/04/oxford-and-the-ethics-of-empire/ At the same time I corresponded with Biggar conveying my support, not for the British Empire (heaven forbid), but for his view that it should be discussed as the complex and morally ambivalent phenomenon it was.
Today I learn that the controversy has re-emerged. A friend (RR) has sent me this link:
https://quillette.com/2018/06/07/want-hold-seminars-topic-empire-will-privately-interview-nigel-biggar/. It’s also covered in The Times: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/campus-censorship-is-stalinist-says-oxford-professor-nigel-biggar-5870pt28f.
I don’t like to hitch up with (I imagine) hidebound old reactionaries; but anti-imperialists do themselves no favours by abandoning rational, scholarly argument in favour of cheap rhetoric and insults. Especially at a prestigious university, whose whole raison d’etre is – or should be – to rise above such things.