Fraud on a Massive Scale

Over on Critical Mass, Erin O’Connor is blogging about a very intriguing book by historian Keith Windschuttle called The Fabrication of Aboriginal History: Volume One, Van Diemen’s Land 1803-1847. The book asserts that the widely accepted account of the genocide of the Aborigines in Tasmania by British colonialists is a fiction. Turns out it never happened — funny, that. Windschuttle’s book chronicles a litany of outrageous lies perpetuated by historians more dedicated to the proper answer than to the true answer.

So what did happen? Windschuttle explains: “True, the full-blood Tasmanian Aborigines did die out in the 19th century….But this was almost entirely a consequence of two factors: the long isolation that had left them vulnerable to introduced diseases, especially influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis; and the fact that they traded and prostituted their women to such an extent that they lost the ability to reproduce themselves.”

Predictably, Windschuttle is now persona non grata among his peers. He has been called a “cultural chauvinist” (surprise!); one detractor charged that he left no room for — wait for it — “historical imagination.” Well if that don’t beat all.

Here’s a link to Windschuttle’s comments in The Australian, an Aussie daily, from which Erin O’Connor quotes extensively. Plus, here’s an article that Windschuttle posted in The New Criterion back in September of 2001, when we were preoccupied with other affairs.

UPDATE Here are Windschuttle’s thoughts on Edward Said and orientalism.