Telling the Truth about Aboriginal History

By Bain Attwood | Go to book overview

5
WAR

Keith Windschuttle continues The Fabrication of Aboriginal History in the manner in which he began it. Having beaten up genocide in his introduction, he beats up massacres in his opening chapter. Once again, he begins by claiming there is orthodox story (about some killings at Risdon Cove) that can be attributed to academic historians; once more, he proceeds to demolish that story by repeating the arguments his orthodox historians have actually made but which he presents as his own interpretation. He continues in this fashion, chapter after chapter. Some of the time he seems to know what he is doing; at other times he does not seem to know what he has done. Whatever the case, his fervent labour is shaped in large part by the project of the settler nation. At the turn of one century, Windschuttle repeats the fantastic claims nationalist historians made at the turn of the previous one: Australia was not like other colonies—it was an exception. Here British colonisation was relatively peaceful.

When he made his foray into the field of Aboriginal history, Windschuttle claimed that academic historians had helped create a sense that the foundations of Australia rested upon 'deadly violence against Aborigines'. He implied they had done so by constructing 'a story of widespread massacres on the frontiers'. (Windschuttle's use of the phrase 'widespread massacres' echoed a conservative spokesman, Hugh Morgan, who had attacked the new Australian history several years earlier.) In beating up massacres, Windschuttle confuses one of the matters at stake in the consideration of the colonisation of this country and in this historical controversy—the nature of settler violence—by failing to make critical distinctions. We noted in the previous chapter that

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Telling the Truth about Aboriginal History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Telling the Truth About Aboriginal History *
  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations vi
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Present 9
  • 1 - Nation 11
  • 2 - Democracy 36
  • 3 - Politics 60
  • Part II - Past 85
  • 4 - Genocide 87
  • 5 - War 106
  • 6 - Law 124
  • 7 - Culture 136
  • Part III - Future 155
  • 8 - History 157
  • 9 - Memory 170
  • 10 - Truth and Recognition 184
  • Acknowledgments 197
  • Notes 198
  • Index 259
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