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Tim Blair

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New Criterion

 

 

Wednesday, January 08, 2003
 
HISTORIANS CAN BITE, but digest very slowly.

Writing in a forum whose space is reserved for "professional" historians (that is, that bastard Windschuttle would never get a gig) Cathie Clement is posting furiously and informatively on the Windschuttle expose of some of our naughtier historians.

It seems that professionalism in history means, firstly, your critics are a conspiracy and their views not a legitimate part of public debate:

It appears that Quadrant, which is said to be one of Prime Minister John Howard's favourite magazines, is being used to lay the groundwork for a purge of "leftist" and/or "orthodox" influences on historical writing and interpretation in Australia

A "purge"? If only!

The sins of illegitimate historian Windschuttle include the following, according to Cathie: He

magnified errors of "fact" Note the ironic rustication of "fact". The maths is shaky too. "Magnified" should be "multiplied", and Windschuttle could only do that because the errors were there.

used journals, newspapers and complaints to government boards and ministers to attack museum professionals who dare to present information about massacres in their displays

And so he should, if the "massacre" was demonstrably not a "fact" and the "information" was in fact misinformation.

pretended that written records can prove what happened in now controversial historical events

I guess historians don't need evidence if they're professional, especially when the events are controversial. Most of us think that's just the time we do need evidence.

dismissed massacre stories as 'bush gossip' and 'tales my granny told me'

as indeed many are. Mostly invented by whites, it seems, like the Bell's Falls Gorge fantasy that's been misinforming visitors to out national Museum for a couple of years.

made unfounded allegations against indigenous storytellers to diminish their credibility

I guess if you're a "victim" your hearsay just has to be history.

Any wonder our young people are staying away from history in droves?

Since this particular thread started last December, no professional historian has written of her dismay that a professional colleague used footnoting deceptively to disguise her fabrication of "facts" in favour of an extreme interpretation of our past.

It's all just history!