Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Authoritative blogger Uncle of ABCwatch today announced the recipient of the inaugural Award for National Defamation.

"This award fills a gaping hole in the national mind" Uncle said in his speech to a packed phone box in the foyer of the Sydney Opera House this morning.

"We have given gongs to GGs, AOs to very ordinary self-important self-seekers, but those who have excelled in the ignoble art of slagging off their fellow citizens have been neglected. It had to stop, and the thousands of ABC watchers who read Australia's leading Auntie blogger have banded together enthusiastically to make sure it does."

"2003 was the last year without a national award for National Defamation."

" We looked for someone whose contributions to national slander were truly exceptional. The competition was fierce, but in the end the judges came to a clear decision. Keep reading and you may find out who it is."

" The winner was no casual calumniator, but a lifetime contributor. His confabulations of contempt were constructed over a generation of diligent research and writing."

" While he is paid as a scholar, he made sure his writings were charged with the drama of the struggle of evil to overcome good. He writes in a lively, engaging way, and excludes anything that threatens the pace of his narrative, like counter-evidence and context."

"His books can be found in every airport bookshop. Indeed, so easily understood are his works they can be set as texts in every university history department and every high-school civics course. Apart from Rolling Stone and Radio JJJ there are few educational resources that have made such an impact on tertiary education in Australia."

"But that is not all. This inaugural winner has not confined himself to the historical record to construct his narratives of joyful slaughter of the innocent. His contribution to our our national archetype goes much deeper."

"Where the record has failed to provide the telling examples of top-to-bottom nastiness, he has creatively altered the records. Such is his modesty that when Mr Keith Windschuttle drew attention recently to an outstanding example of his skill, the invention of a quotation he attributed to Lieutenant Governor Arthur of Tasmania, he claimed it was but a slip of the pen. It is this modesty that marks a true national hero. "

"But our winner can't deny responsibility for his greatest achievement, something that goes beyond petty distortion and wilful neglect. I refer of course to that highest achievement of the professional historian's art, creative anachronism. "

"Any dull graduate can commit anachronism by assuming the past shared the circumstances, knowledge and advantages of the present. But it takes a man of genius to invent a guiding principle for the past that the past had never heard of, and then to persuade every commentator, fellow historian and right-minded person that it was that very principle that lay behind national policy. Until he and his supporters came along."

" Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I will suspend your incredulity no longer. "

" Our inaugural winner of the Australian National Defamation Award is Professor Henry Reynolds for his success in leading the Massacrist School of Australian history, culminating in the greatest intellectual scam of the past generation, greater even than the achievement of our Awards' namesake. I refer of course to his invention of terra nullius, a doctrine that simply renders absurd any defence of the behaviour of our colonial forbears in general. Since they denied the existence of our indigenous brothers and sisters and their claims to their land, our predecessors simply can not have had any good intentions and would have been foolish to have behaved well to those interfering blackfellows."

"Terra nullius may truly be described as a bastard of an idea. It originated in some obscure debate between Algeria and Morocco, having no sire among the European colonial constitutions. Its migration to this fair land of ours was sponsored by Justice Lionel Murphy, some time after he had passed his previous import, Ms Juni Morosi, off on Dr Jim Cairns."

"But it was a homeless refugee until Professor Reynolds came along. He crossed it with res nullius, (another recent immigrant), who believes that there is property that belongs to no-one. Professor Reynolds added a few letters, and revealed to the world a creation to rival Dr Frankenstein's!"

"Such was Professor Reynold's modesty he hid his creative light under the bushel of British colonial policy. And so his creative work has gone unnoticed and unrewarded. Until now."

" Terra nullius is indeed the culminating triumph of the anti-colonial school of history. As this powerful idea moves through our dictionaries and school texts, so the reputation of its principal author is assured."

"Professor Reynolds, please step forward to accept your award, a tastefully-sculpted receptacle in the shape of an inverted Opera House, from which a frozen flood of dark liquid appears to descend towards the smiling, up-turned face of an emblematic average Australian. (He looks a bit like Steve Irwin)."

"Professor Reynolds, you were not the first to think of calling the sad fate of Tasmania's Aboriginal population 'genocide', but you have given this richly satisfying version of Australian history greater currency than the sad ranters who took that first step."

"Along with this inspiring token, Professor Reynolds, goes automatic access to Radio National, the Fairfax press, and the reading lists of history courses in every Australian school and university. What's that, Professor? You've got that already?"

"Never mind, keep up the good work. There's always the Lifetime Achievement Award to look forward to."

"In the meantime, sit back, relax, and enjoy the first of what our nation will soon come to know as The Ronnies."