Tim Blair


New Criterion



Friday, February 14, 2003
THE "HISTORIANS' SIGH" with which the historians of the left (can you see any others around these days) greeted Keith Windschuttle's exposure of shonky work on Tasmanian history has turned into that more fundamental kind of flatulence with the launch on Monday of the book of the conference of December 2001 on "Frontier Conflict".

At that conference Windschuttle revealed some of the errors or inventions he had found in the highly-esteemed work of Professor Lyndall Ryan, who had published the second edition of her book only five years before.

And now, fourteen months later, in her paper in these conference proceedings, she has so little regard for the ethical or academic standards of her professional historian colleagues that she doesn't bother even addressing the embarrassment. Her "minor errors", she said last December, "can easily be rectified" but she hasn't attempted to do so.

And her colleagues? Well, those quoted in the Australian on Tuesday all agree with her: it's just so long ago, sigh, and how, sigh, could a poor historian be expected to even remember, sigh, what she did in 1996, sigh, let alone check its accuracy?

As for one hundred and fifty years ago, sigh, well, you just have to use your historical imagination.

Georgette Heyer does it much better, but.

Joint editor of the book, and chief attack dog for the Marxist left of historians, Bain Attwood, who informed Uncle of the historians' sigh, wants us to believe that he and his colleagues have walked away from crude assertions of nineteenth century genocidal policies into more local, nuanced, versions of twentieth century quasi-genocidal social policies.

Other historians still believe what Ryan still says in print, and will continue to teach genocide history to their students until "professional" historians produce a truthful version of Tasmanian history that doesn't bear the name of the hated Keith Windschuttle. Sigh.

And as for the rest of Australian frontier history?


Let's give Windschuttle the last word. For now.