Peripatetic blog commenter Norman Hanscombe fires the latest shot in the “culture wars”, with a guest article on Tim Dunlop’s blog detailing inaccuracies in Lyndall Ryan’s work uncovered by Keith Windschuttle. Having digested Windschuttle’s book in a rather hasty scanning session in the NTU Library, I must confess I’d missed much of the detail Norman conveniently summarises.
Norman’s article is a powerful and apparently well-directed shot in this armadillo’s assessment. It might even provoke my co-blogger Christopher Sheil into actually reading Windschuttle’s book The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, instead of forming and arguing a viewpoint solely relying on the opinions of like-minded historians who’ve bothered doing so. Then again it might not. One of the mixed blessings of blogging is that you can always write and publish something half-baked and under-researched (or even unresearched) without restriction, except the obvious one that readers might well treat a “shoot from the lip” effort with less than the respect that would normally be due to an eminent historian expressing a view within his own discipline.
Norman has thankfully resisted the temptation to tackle the person instead of the ball, an indulgence that sadly derailed the previous debate on this blog and the discussion of Chris’s initial guest post on Tim’s blog. Comments on Tim’s blog this time have been somewhat less acrimonious (so far), although there still seems to be little attempt at joining issue with Norman on the detail. I’m going to link this post from the sidebar “ongoing debates” heading (which I’m about to create), in the hope that we might get some more considered responses over time, either here or on Tim’s blog. Feel free to widen the topic to include Aboriginal history generally if you wish. After all, Windshuttle’s book is touted as the first of a series covering the gamut of the interaction of Australia’s European and indigenous inhabitants.
Hopefully the above might provoke a minor flurry of comments (he thinks while rinsing the stirring spoon).