Carnegie Mellon rejects professor’s condemnation of late Queen

University sees free-speech limits after Nigerian-born professor wishes monarch pain for colonial abuses

September 9, 2022
Cancelled Stamp From Nigeria Featuring Queen Elizabeth II And The Timber Industry
Source: iStock

Carnegie Mellon University has expressed regret after a Nigerian-born professor condemned Queen Elizabeth II over decades of colonial abuses.

Uju Anya, an associate professor of second language acquisition at Carnegie Mellon, told her 84,000 followers on Twitter that she hoped for an “excruciating” death for the “chief monarch of a thieving and raping genocidal empire”.

That post was later removed, and Carnegie Mellon posted its own response, saying: “We do not condone the offensive and objectionable messages posted by Uju Anya today on her personal social media account.

“Free expression is core to the mission of higher education, however, the views she shared absolutely do not represent the values of the institution, nor the standards of discourse we seek to foster.”

The academic’s post attracted widespread criticism as well as some expressions of support for the reminder about Britain’s colonial past, if not the moment and manner with which Dr Anya chose to deliver it.

The Queen died Thursday at age 96 at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, ending a globally celebrated seven-decade reign that made her Britain’s longest-serving monarch.

Those opposing Dr Anya on Twitter included Jeff Bezos, the wealthy Amazon founder, who wrote: “This is someone supposedly working to make the world better? I don’t think so. Wow.”

The academic responded: “May everyone you and your merciless greed have harmed in this world remember you as fondly as I remember my colonisers.”

Dr Anya’s research at Carnegie Mellon involves applied linguistics, with a focus on race, gender, sexual and social class identities of African American students.

Among her responses on Twitter, she said the Queen “supervised a government that sponsored the genocide that massacred and displaced half my family and the consequences of which those alive today are still trying to overcome”.

Among its colonial-era abuses, Britain backed a government in Nigeria that in the late 1960s waged a war against independence for a Republic of Biafra in which an estimated 1 million Biafran civilians died of starvation.

paul.basken@timeshighereducation.com

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