Tim Blair


New Criterion



Thursday, December 12, 2002

Moving picture director Phil Noyce has been getting some stick lately for making a cartoon claiming to be an episode of Australian history (Rabbit-proof fence) and then slagging off his homeland as if the fabrication were fact.

Less attention has been paid to the tenured university historians who have provided the climate of falsehood from which film-makers' caricatures grow.

But this has been an important week for historical fabricators, because Keith Windschuttle has published the first volume of his detailed examination of their work.

The book is The fabrication of Aboriginal history, volume one, and it is devastating. In short, it shows that some of the leading proponents of the leftist paradigm that sees Tasmanian history as a Punch and Judy show in which evil, exploitative British imperialism practised genocide on Australian Aborigines has been invented.

The tools used by the professional historians responsible for the fabrication included deliberate invention of historical sources that do not exist, moving whole phrases around in witness statements, failing to look for corroboration for the most unlikely of tall tales, among other vices. When these historians are on the political campaign trail the historical evidence just has to do as it is told.

Windschuttle's destruction of their work, and their professional reputations, is complete.

They hang suspended over the abyss like the cartoon coyote waiting for the rest of us to see their true position.

If you don't believe old Uncle, listen to Henry Reynold's response on tonight's PM. Better, wait for the transcript.

Take away the huff and puff, and the Reynolds reply amounts to this. He can't argue with the chapter and verse of Windschuttle's dismantling of his work, so he just pretends it doesn't affect the interpretation.

If the lies don't matter, why bother telling them?

Beneath the bluster, Reynolds is capitulating. The lesser lights appear to be staying under the covers until new year. Their academic mates are trying to bully and censor. "We are deeply concerned that Keith Windschuttle should be given space to attack the credibility of major Australian historians...It is a tragedy for Australian society that someone with such a twisted view of history...should be given any support or credence." bark Professors Muecke, Goodall and Langton in yesterday's Australian.

That makes five people who could not possibly hold jobs in any university that valued its reputation or the traditions of scholarly debate.

Read Windschuttle's brief summary of his case, better still read the book, and be prepared to lose whatever respect you've got left for the professionalism of leftist historians.