July 8, 2007

Lying about history has worked out so well

You’d think the academic left would eventually learn that the path to hell is paved with “good intentions”, but they’re a bit more determined and a bit more dense than that, as exemplified by the extreme relativism, moral revisionism, and personal narrative, which, apparently is how history is taught in our schools today.

It’s safe to assume that these articles won’t make it onto any of our high school history curriculum.

Aboriginal violence was ‘sanitised’

“Publishers in the 1980s and 1990s sanitised Aboriginal history by censoring accounts of violence, including sexual abuse and infanticide.

Award-winning historical author Susanna de Vries has revealed that her books on early colonial life, based on the memoirs of pioneer women, were allegedly toned down so as not to upset Aboriginal sensibilities.

"We don't sanitise anti-Semitism and the Holocaust," said Louis Nowra, author of Bad Dreaming, which documents the use of Aboriginal customary law to legitimise sexual abuse and domestic violence against women and children.”

"Anything to do with the abuse of Aboriginal women and children by their fellow Aborigines has been censored out by editors keen not to offend and raise ghosts of the stolen children stories. Ignoring the other stories of the rape of Aboriginal girls by Aboriginal men; the killing of Aboriginal babies often by leaving them to die in the bush; and the neglect and abuse of Aboriginal and part-Aboriginal children have all been part of a taboo which is based on guilt."

Controversial historian Keith Windschuttle, who came to national prominence for questioning claims by other historians that Tasmanian Aborigines were massacred by white settlers, said the tendency to whitewash Aboriginal culture started in the 1970s.

"People thought by flattering pre-modern Aboriginal culture you would assert esteem in Aboriginal culture and make Aboriginal people feel good about themselves," Mr Windschuttle said. "It also continued the belief that the problem with modern Aboriginal culture doesn't lie with Aborigines, it lies with white people instead of seeing that the problem in many ways lies with both."

Historian Inga Clendinnen said censorship arose from a "very understandable tenderness and concern" towards the Aboriginal community.”

Airbrushing Aboriginal infanticide, tribal warfare, and the rape and removal of women from the history books was incredibly tender and caring.

Yes siree, that sentiment has worked out so well for our Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities, particularly the women and kiddies.

Speaking of Keith Windschuttle (we were, weren’t we?) …

“What struck me at the time about the controversy was the evident fact that a large and influential part of the Australian academy and intelligentsia actually wanted there to have been a genocide.”

If the state was founded on genocide then, however superficially satisfactory it might appear at first sight, it is necessary to refound it on a sounder, more ethical basis. And the architects and subsequent owner-managers will, of course, be the intelligentsia, for only they are qualified.”

I’m not necessarily buying into the wishful thinking of the intelligentsia about their qualifications for building six Lego pieces into a tower, let alone a “more” ethical state. I think their motive is more prosaic than that: elevating, romanticizing, and infantilizing the “noble savage” natives, while denigrating and demonizing the invaders – err, that would be us white folk.

Why our intellectuals want to believe in genocide …


  1. It's a bit tough to understand how Windschuttle has become such a divisive figure when he says things so moderate and even-handed like this:

    "It also continued the belief that the problem with modern Aboriginal culture doesn't lie with Aborigines, it lies with white people instead of seeing that the problem in many ways lies with both."

    I remember vaguely a few of the texts we had to read as kids, or videos we had to watch, and they were a sort of mixture of kitsch imagery (red loincloths) and hopeless romanticisation (ie, censoring of violence).

    I'd hope that the left, so quick to acknowledge other examples of apparent media indoctrination (ads, bias in the commercial networks, and so on) will acknowledge this as well.

  2. Anonymous2:34 PM

    " It's safe to assume that these articles won't make it onto any of our high school history curriculum." Totally agree Caz.

    How these academics can get away with this dishonesty, beats me.

    They certainly are counter productive in bringing Aboriginals and whites closer together, for any meaningful reconciliation.

    Robert Manne is a case in point..
    I remember vaguely some years ago when he and Windschuttle had a bit of a stoush after Windschuttle's book was published.
    I thought at the time (as I still do,) what a complete and utter dickhead Manne was..

  3. I think you're right Kathy. Manne seems to be very much fond of social-engineering-through-education-and-the-media, or at least that's the impression that I get from every piece of his that I've ever read.

    Not that I'm that fond of Windschuttle either - he is a good critic of the accepted version of Aboriginal history and a strong researcher, but he has some really bizarre conspiracy theories about left-wing bias. But at least he likes to provoke debate; Manne seems to want to shut up those people he disagrees with.

  4. Indeed, Windschuttle is not a poster boy for all that is good in the world, but he serves a purpose.

    Funny how Howard is being accused of paternalism by (belatedly) putting the safety of women and children, and the importance of social order, above cultural sensibilities or land rights, but the entrenched distortion of Aboriginal history and culture is not considered to be paternalistic and condescending.

    The saddest part is that it doesn't take a grand intellect to draw a straight line between the lies of "history" and the current circumstances of many Aboriginal communities and the way women and children are treated therein. It's easy to speculate that things would never have become quite this bad if the realities of Aboriginal culture had not been lied about, out of white man's "sensitivity", not to mention the continued Aboriginal clinging to moral indignation.

  5. Anonymous10:45 PM

    It is of course absurd to sanitise aboriginal history. Such a history is worthless.

    But there is such a thing as perspective. For example, the treatment of women and children among aboriginal societies in pre-settlement Australia may be controversial. The treatment of women and children in European societies, and in particular in the UK, is not so controversial. We have a pretty good idea how they were treated.

    Don't forget that at the time of the First Fleet, children were still being hanged in public in London for petty crimes. Women of all classes had virtually no legal rights. A husband could not be charged with rape of his wife right up until the last century. Brutal poverty, starvation, disease. Ireland during the potato famine? Child labour in the mines. Chimney sweeps. I could go on and on.

    Ask this question of yourself. You are a woman or a child of no particular station and it's the seventeenth or eighteenth century. Where would you rather be? In an aboriginal tribe around the northern beaches of Sydney or in Dublin? Or London?

  6. All good points Geoff, although you're forgetting that men too had a rather rough trot of things, back in those days. It's fair to say that everyone did.

    The key difference is that no one has sanitized that history, and, very importantly, we have over come it, by, in part, not cosseting our culture. We have not demanded that cultural practices from the 17th and 18th century be respected and protected. In fact we have laws to prevent many such practices!!

    I can't comment on whether it would have been better to be a little tyke in London or in outback Oz. Either option would have sucked.

    Don't forget that traditional Aboriginal society used infanticide just as much as any other society, because, despite having the country to themselves at that time, they couldn't raise all babies, so they let them - or helped them - die.

    Back to the question: I'd probably pick London or Dublin, as I might have had a fighting chance at being relatively safe.

  7. Anonymous8:16 AM

    There's a charming little story in my extended family history remembered to this day. It is the nineteenth century and this branch of the family is still in Russia. A baby is born on the tiny farm where the family lives. The midwife declares that the child is too weak to survive.

    So on the strength of her word, and her word alone, the baby is covered with a tallit (prayer shawl) and allowed to die.

  8. How horribly sad, yet how common it probably was, all over the world.

    Poor little souls, most without the warmth of a with a tallit either.

    How many scrawny little bubs grow up to be strong, strapping adults, 'ey?

    Different times, different times. Guess they didn't know that then, or didn't want to take the chance.

  9. The sanitization & downright revision of history is endemic in academia.

    Academics believe we are too stupid to handle the truth and feel a perverse need to socially engineer the world for us morons.

    They've been at it for years.