Tim Blair


New Criterion



Monday, April 21, 2003
IT HAS BEEN A PRAYERFUL EASTER at Auntie's. Those of you with strong constitutions have possibly just listened to a repeat of Norman Mailer's fatwa on America. Uncle stuck out ten minutes of it. To call Mailer's political analysis undergraduate would be to unreasonably deprecate even the most disturbed of the undergraduates of Uncle's acquaintance.

The only reason for Auntie to re-heat this stale gruel is the spirit of brain-dead self-righteousness pervading the commune this holy weekend. Don't bother chasing the program.

It's their ABC; you're just paying for it.

MORE HOLY WORK DONE by Radio National's Hindsight yesterday.

Almost six months after he published his ground-breaking study The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, historian Keith Windschuttle was given a gig in Auntie's Hindsight pulpit to put a summary of his devastating critique of the conventional historians of relations between black and white Australians. They had to label his work "controversial" of course; a word real journalists never use to slyly editorialise against someone they disagree with.

To lead the academic lynch mob against Windschuttle at the RMIT University was Professor Patricia Grimshaw.

You could tell Prof Grimshaw was a professional historian by the way she refused to deal with any of Windschuttle's evidence. Instead she attacked his character, politics and gall in questioning the universals we all know to be, just, well, true.

Grimshaw assured us that her naughty colleagues would be responding to Windschuttle themselves. Any day now. Eighteen months and counting.

All Grimshaw had to do was convince us Windschuttle was a bastard for even suggesting his own explanations of the decline of the Tasmanian Aboriginal population. They are all wrong a priori and only bastards would suggest otherwise. Has Grimshaw studied the Tasmanian evidence? Are you crazy!

The Grimshaw case, delivered with the tenor and nuance of a chainsaw, is simple. Did the British have a right to be in Tasmania? Of course not. Therefore, having occupied the higher moral ground, any accusation Grimshaw and pals choose to make must be true provided they sincerely believe it to be true.

Do we fell in our hearts, brothers and sisters, that the colonial administrations in Tasmania slaughtered, tortured, kicked off baby's heads? Yes? Then it must be true, because we're looking back from the higher moral ground.

Did the red-coats massacre? We just know it; so any old rumour, "oral history", or sheer supposition will do.

Did careerist "friends" of the Aborigines, like George Augustus Robinson, lie to advance their careers. Only a right-wing bastard would suggest it.

And so on.

Hardly worth attending to Grimshaw except to ask yourself this question. What chance would any undergraduate student of Grimshaw's have to put a contrary view and survive in her gulag. Listen to some of her tirade and pity any undergraduate who actually wants an education.

If you had the constitution to listen to the end you would hear a remarkable editorial game played with question time. Almost none of it has been broadcast.

I can imagine the RMIT audience was incoherently critical of Windschuttle, and little of this session deserved broadcast. But why did the ABC editors choose to cut in a brief expostulation of Windschuttle's, meaningless without its context, when he says words to the effect: Jesus, what's wrong with looking at the evidence? It seems to Uncle an understandably plaintive appeal, given the ferocious bigotry of the audience, but was Auntie's purpose to portray Windschuttle as an unreasonable person by cowardly use of the editor's scissors?

If you 've got bandwidth to burn you can listen to the audio. Otherwise listen on Thursday at 1.00 pm Eastern Time for the repeat.