Tim Blair


New Criterion



Wednesday, July 07, 2004
AUSTRALIAN HISTORIANS, through their 'professional' association the AHA, are considering ways of declaring criticism of their lies and fabrications unethical.

According to a report in yesterday's Australian (not available on the free site), Association President David Carment considers it worth exploring a proposal from Western Australian historian Cathie Clement for a code of conduct to sanction historians who "publicly question the integrity or competence of their colleagues".

Carment also supported colleague Lyndall Ryan whose fabrications were exposed by Keith Windschuttle. The media, especially The Australian, had displayed a "deliberate element" in publicising Ryan's lies, to which she has since confessed.

Ryan, of course, expresses neither regret nor contrition. Instead she labels herself as typical and calls on her fellow 'professional' historians to keep the wagons circled and deny, deny, deny.

"Are we going to lie back and take it, and be raped by a voracious print media? I hope not."

Ryan's colleagues, according to reporter Ean Higgins, "expressed frustration at not being able to get their message out", while Professor Ryan attacked the only newspaper that bothered to cover their wank-fest, The Australian.

I think the 'professional' historians are onto something here. In fact I recall proposing the idea to them some time ago. Remember UVVU?

UVVU was that marvellous Danish invention, an inexpert but highly political committee that found Bjorn Lomberg guilty of the ingenious offence of "unintentional dishonesty" for his exposure of shonky evidence of environmental decay.

Despite writing a report that would have drawn horse-laughs even from an Australian university history department, UVVU's succeeded in pasting the label of 'dishonesty' to Lomberg's flanks for a couple of years. No doubt many of those gullible to the left still believe it, although Denmark's broader academic community later disowned UVVU.

On the other hand, perhaps the time for the Leninist response has passed.

Our governments and university councils should of course refuse all further funds for our university departments of history. Until the current crop of crooks retire themselves from the government payroll it is a public mischief to provide them with any assistance.

While waiting for the Manningian generation to pass we can take some comfort from the fact that university students are deserting Australian history. Unfortunately, that choice represents a lost opportunity to spread important knowledge, as well as lies and distortion.

It also reflects, I fear, the way the dismal lies and distortions of the left have taken over the senior high school years, largely through the opportunity created by the conservatives' support for courses in civics.

The corruption of our 'professional' history-making is just the fungal fruit at the top of the educational tree.

Unfortunately, the decay of of Australian history is taking the honest practitioners down with the crooks. On the other hand, these honest people have proved remarkably ineffective at containing those who have betrayed their profession, so perhaps we should not suffer too much regret for them.

Let's acknowledge one exception, Associate Professor Gregory Melleuish of the University of Wollongong. He was prepared to go public with a response to the politicking of Professor Stuart Macintyre who led the historians' counter-attack against the Keith Windschuttle revelations.
If Macintyre so disapproves of the history wars, why did he launch this polemical book that he must have known would inflame passions and, having inflamed those passions, why did he compound the matter by writing an equally provocative afterword to the new edition? ... Make no mistake: The History Wars is not a work of scholarship but of polemic and can only be treated as such. Would not the best course have been to remain silent?

I think there are good reasons why Macintyre deprecates the history wars while opening up a new front in them. The first is that Macintyre wants to fight the Cold War over again. It is McCarthyism that provides his model. He places historians in the role of the Hollywood directors and actors of the 1950s. He portrays them as being persecuted by some sort of evil alliance that seems to be composed of John Howard and the print media, with this newspaper being cast in a leading role.