The heresy of Noel Pearson

Taking a break from his playground spat with Tim Dunlop (see here and here), in which both Tims and their respective supporters are competing to see who can dream up the most childishly spiteful arguments against each other on an issue of mind-blowing triviality, Tim Blair blogs a fascinating piece on a letter apparently written by a close associate of prominent Cape York Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson. Asserting that he was writing with Pearson’s support, Richie Ah Matt urged John Howard to stay on as PM, and condemned politically correct ‘bleeding heart’ approaches to indigenous affairs in remarkably forthright language.

The letter picks up several recurrent blogging themes of this little little armadillo, not least the need to attack the horrendous violence, abuse, unemployment, disease and disadvantage suffered by Aboriginal people in a practical and effective way, which doesn’t necessarily preclude PC issues like treaties, apologies or recognition of customary law, but certainly suggests that they should be regarded as questions of third order importance at best. The left typically dismisses such arguments sneeringly as “practical reconciliation”, as if that was somehow a killer argument.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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cs
cs
2021 years ago

While not diagreeing with the substance of your point, ‘practical reconciliation’ is yet another dark Orwellian slide, aimed at dropping the political agenda.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

I think your comment might well be QED in terms of Ken’s last sentence, Chris ;)

cs
cs
2021 years ago

Well, not quite Geoff, as I don’t think recognising the rhetorical function of the term ‘practical reconciliation’ is “somehow a killer argument” … It’s just a factual truth whether mentioned or not, and a stubborn truth with consequences, no matter whether you think those consequences good or bad.

Norman
Norman
2021 years ago

Unfortunately [especially among those purporting to be ‘progressive left’] terms such as “factual truth” are bandied around freely but, on closer inspection, usually mean little more than “my point of view”. When questioned, they often use a defence which once would have been seen as embarrassing, namely, “That’s YOUR logic, but I have a different logic.” Aristotle et al, stand aside?
Sadly, they’re also so confident, that it’s little use even trying to suggest that ‘opinion’ and ‘logic’ have very different meanings. Their self esteem [especially when combined with their understanding of post modernism] leaves them so convinced of their position, they see no reason to examining either their premises or the structure of the argument by which their ‘self evident’ conclusions have been reached.
And we call it progressive education.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Norman,

As that old Monty Python sketch might have put it, are you just looking for the 5 minute argument or do you want the full half hour? In either case you’ll have to wait till CS is on duty.

cs
cs
2021 years ago

Well Norman, I have no wish to chew any more bones with you, but let me just suggest there is room for reasonable argument here.

Sure, it’s not a factual truth in the same simple form as saying that ‘this event occurred on this day’, or ‘that person said so and so’. Yet, if the invention of the rhetorical term ‘practical’ reconciliation actually has had the real effect of narrowing the agenda on the government’s relations with Indigeneous Australia, does that not therefore qualify as a factual truth .. and ultimately in the same way as other everyday factual truths?

Now, this leaves room for you to argue that the stament is not true, as it doesn’t narrow the agenda. But the outcome here turns on the evidence that can be brought to bear, in the same way as establishing that this event occurred on this day, or that person said so and so. The facts about the effects of the invention of the term ‘practical reconciliation’ cannot be observed or heard by one or more direct witnesses as might be usual in the simple cases, but does it not turn on the testimonies explicit or implicit in evidence that bears witness to those effects nonetheless? After considering the evidence, and assuming the evidence can be conclusive, the statement will become accomplished as a factual truth or not. It will not live on regardless of the evidence in a never-never land of opinion.

If you can falsify the statement, it would of course lose its status as a factual truth. I stand to be corrected, but I don’t think you can falsify it. It is of course a classic defence to describe the truths one feels comfortable with as ‘facts’, and to reject the inconvenient by sliding them off into ‘opinion’.

Norman
Norman
2021 years ago

I have little interest in the “boo” or “hurrah” use of words, which characterises much of the debate. I’d suggest many of the solutions advanced as ‘progresive’ assitance for various diadvataged groups, though formulated with the best of intentions, prove disastrous for those they purport to help.
Kids from working class families have suffered for 3 decades now from changes which damaged both their families and their schools. I know from speaking to them, that many who pushed these changes hadn’t a clue about what it meant to grow up in those homes, those areas.
If anything, the effects on indigenous communities have been even worse.
Then again, why should I think I [or even Richie Ah Matt] know as much as the Chattering Class experts, whose families have never even lived among aborigines? I must be letting my emotions distort the ‘progressive’ vision? I’d best try to concentrate on vital tasks, such as using language loosely.