Cambridge academic faces ‘racist’ Daily Mail smear campaign
Dr Priyamvada Gopal was targeted for her comments on the impact of colonialism.
The hostile and polemical discourse over the legacy and role of colonialism in academia has further escalated. In a virulent Daily Mail article, journalist Guy Adams attacked Cambridge academic Dr Priyamvada Gopal for her criticism of Oxford Don, Nigel Biggar's, description of the British Empire as 'morally mixed'.
The history between Biggar and Gopal stretches back a while. In November 2017, Biggar wrote an article entitled 'Don't Feel Guilty about Our Colonial History', calling for 'us British to moderate our post-Colonial guilt'. The article cites political scientist Bruce Gilley, who wanted to 'question the orthodoxy' of 'Western Colonialism'. Days after its publication, 170 academics signed an open letter opposing the article.
Writing in The Times, Biggar called Gopal's tweets 'incontinent abuse' and describes her thread as not rising 'above the level of spitting hatred'. According to Biggar, neither Churchill nor Christ Church College found Gopal's tweets problematic.
Dr Gopal had tweeted her condemnation of Biggar's work, calling it 'Oxbridge racism at its finest'.
She has since received thousands of messages of support and solidarity; including in a blog by Archbishop Cranmer.
The Daily Mail accused Dr Gopal, who is a reader of English at Churchill College, of writing 'posts laced with bile', and called her a 'prolific internet troll.'
Dr Gopal is a well-known critic of racism sexism, and eurocentric curricula in the University sector. Guy Adams's article is not the first to target a Cambridge figure of colour. Indeed, the MailOnline provoked uproar after their questionable reporting of tweets made by CUSU BME officer, Jason Okundaye.
In a statement posted to their Facebook page, the CUSU BME campaign defended Gopal:
The Women's Campaign also showed their support:
Update: The University of Cambridge has given a statement on the developing situation, a day after the CUSU BME and Women's Campaign statements: