Australian Civil Liberties Union
Geoff Muirden reviews KEITH WINDSCHUTTLE, "THE FABRICATION OF ABORIGINAL HISTORY: VOLUME 1; VAN DIEMEN'S LAND"
Geoff Muirden and his Book Reviews: Keith Windschuttle: The
Fabrication of Aboriginal History: Volume 1;Van Diemen's Land, 1803-1847
Sydney, Macleay Press, 2002. hard cover. ISBN 1876492058. 472 pp. $A49-95
This book has generated a fierce debate within the pages of The Australian newspaper, especially the Weekend Australian. Dec. 28-29,2002. It deserves attention by all who are politically incorrect enough to want the truth, and to rescue the white race from factually incorrect charges of genocide. Many people know political correctness is the opposite of factual correctness. Windschuttle targets Left-wing writers such as the 2 Rs: Ryan and Reynolds, despite the fact that historian Attwood, claimed they did not believe in genocide claims. Nevertheless, Windschuttle cites Lyndall Ryan, in her book, The Aborigines of Tasmania (1981) 2nd ed., as saying that Tasmanian aborigines were victims of a conscious policy of genocide. Clive Turnbull’s 1948 book, Black War, said that "Extermination policies were not exclusive to Nazi Germany" (Windschuttle, p. 13)
Lloyd Robson refers to the Tasmanian conquest as "an impressive example of extermination. A History of Tasmania, Vol.1) and Rhys Jones and Tom Haydon suggested in The Last Tasmanian that it was ‘a holocaust of European savagery."
Windschuttle has been called an Australian revisionist, and so he is about the aboriginal scene, but he is not a so-called "holocaust denier" because he does not challenge the Holocaust orthodoxy. He even labels one chapter 'The Final Solution' with its customary connotations of "termination." His claims are taken seriously enough for a writer, in The Australian, 30th December, 2002, to suggest that Australian museum exhibits should be modified to accommodate Windschuttle’s claims, whereas there will be a long wait before an Australian museum modifies exhibits to suit a European Holocaust revisionist.
In some ways, Windschuttle draws on the work of previous historians, such as James Calder’s The Native Tribes of Tasmania (1875) who suggested most claims of extermination are vastly exaggerated about the numbers involved, a theme Windschuttle endorses throughout the book. Windschuttle claims that more whites were killed than blacks, 187 whites (p. 352) to 118 blacks (p. 397) out of a total black population at time of colonial settlement of about 2,000.
It is a feature of Left-wing political correctness that deep moral concern seldom is shown for white deaths. Instead, political correctness concentrates on black deaths, as if the lives of whites did not count, an interesting attitude coming from whites. As Windschuttle shows, the notion of attributing ‘Heroic guerrilla warfare’ to the Tasmanian blacks during the 19th century creates an attitude they did not have. The Tasmanians were also a nomadic people with no sense of a "national purpose" the same as aborigines in Australia at time of white settlement. Windschuttle argues against the validity of Land Rights claims, and complains that historic sites given to blacks have been contemptuously allowed to fall into ruin (p. 411).
He also extensively analyzes a major political figure of that era, George Augustus Robinson, whom Leftist black-arm band historians love because he contrasts the ‘poor, helpless, forlorn, oppressed blacks" with the "merciless whites" (p. 249) Windschuttle said that it served Robinson’s purposes to understate black murders and to suggest that conciliation with natives be encouraged, since he got a nice profit from herding natives into areas, earning bounty money, and presenting himself as the natives’ protector. He acquired the reputation of a great humanitarian and at the same time profited by his business. Robinson was not a disinterested observer.
Windschuttle does not cite one writer, Patricia Cobern, writing "Who really killed Tasmania’s Aborigines?" in The Bulletin, Feb. 23, 1982,(pp.32-4) who arrives at conclusions similar to his own, and believed Tasmanian natives were starting to die out at settlement and would have become extinct if the whites had arrived later.
Like Windschuttle, she cites an eyewitness of the times, James Erskine Calder, who noticed warlike habits and treachery of natives. He mentions their raids on isolated farms and the way in which they would feign friendship towards whites and then, when they were within range, would flick spears from between their toes and impale the luckless whites. It’s racist to say this, of course, but if present-day whites in Tasmania had to endure this kind of reception themselves, they might not have been so enthusiastic about black preservation. But in spite of this, Windschuttle suggests that, not only was the policy of the Tasmanian government against extermination, but very few colonists themselves supported it.
Cobern cites several causes of Aboriginal decline: (1) their eating habits, which involved gluttony, sometimes of rancid food;(2) hazards of birth, such as unsterilised implements to cut the umbilical cord;(3) lack of hygiene; (4 tribal prostitution, which encouraged V.D. and cut the number of new births for the tribes; (5)infection from ritual wounds;(6) exposure to the harsh climate, a key motive for stealing the whites’ blankets.
Cobern concludes that "the killer that stalked the Tasmanian Aboriginal tribes was the practices and customs of the race, its face was not white."
Many of these are good explanations, but Windschuttle places more emphasis on the isolation of the tribes from other cultures. On venereal disease, Windschuttle mentions that the tribes encouraged it by selling their wives to the whites for provisions or dogs. The last full-blooded aborigine to die in Tasmania was Truganini, but some half-breeds have survived since.
Windschuttle mentions that this volume is only one in a series to challenge the politically correct view of Australian Aboriginal history. It is not yet clear what his subsequent volumes will say, but some themes may be suggested by books such as Anthropophagitism, by James Cooke, RN, Rtd, showing widespread cannibalism among Australian tribes, and books such as Cape York, The Savage Frontier, by Rodney Liddell, which suggests such politically incorrect messages as the fact that the present-day Aborigines are not, as often suggested, the original inhabitants, but they displaced, and "holocausted" the previous Papuan race; that many so-called rock paintings" are frauds; that Aboriginal occupation cannot be as old as suggested; and that black tribes were rent by tribal wars, frequently over seizure of women. Like Blainey, it mentions that Australian aborigines were nomads, with no sense of a unified ‘nation.’ It also documents the way in which castaways unfortunate enough to be wrecked on Cape York, were murdered in horrific and brutal ways. It was no "island paradise" that was taken over by whites.
It remains to be seen whether Windschuttle will take up themes such as this, in his own high-powered, heavily concentrated and strongly academic style. In the meantime, he has given a hearty blow to the fashionable anti-white racism.
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Australian Civil Liberties Union