Friday, January 17, 2020

Australia's shameful history

“This history is so shameful that most Australians could not admit that this is the origin of their state and their nation”
— Indigenous historian Marcia Langton, in The First Australians.
When I grew up in Melbourne in the 1950s the history of what happened to the aboriginals was invisible. No one talked about it. As Bill Stanner said in 1968 it was the great Australian silence, a cult of forgetfulness on a national scale. A view from the window where a significant part of the landscape was hidden.

Some of my marxist comrades say something like this:
Aboriginal resistance to colonialism can’t be supported because their social system was too backward, primitive, “stone age”. Further, it is argued that Marx supported globalisation and implied from that, that he supported colonialism. See Marx Supported Capitalist Globalization  According to this dialectic the British occupation of Australia was basically a good thing. Modernity is good, superior to any form of pre-modern society. Perhaps I am not portraying their position correctly. They can fix that.

What I am thinking:
This mindset filters out some uncomfortable facts. We see the world through our mind memes, the state of our mind determines what we choose to see. Hence, some of these comrades end up say that Windschuttle was correct in his denial of massacres. I've been told that historians such as Lyndall Ryan and Henry Reynolds either exaggerated or lied and never admitted it when they were caught out. I can except that but believe that their fundamental position is correct, that widespread, systematic massacres occurred.

What facts?
That there were repeated massacres of aboriginal people. Following from the terra nullius doctrine aboriginal people were not treated as having any rights. So, in Tasmania the ex convict settlers took their women. In Queensland pastoralists took their land, etc, etc. Any thinking person should be able to see that this would inevitably lead to conflict. I filter the facts through that context, terra nullius and what would have to flow from that. Aboriginal people responded by killing whites or cattle. In response the whites responded by multiple killings of aboriginals, the only viable way in the conditions of the early colonies, to “teach them a lesson”. Those doing the massacres were usually not brought to justice. Either a blind eye was turned or the massacres were kept secret from authorities.

The evidence:
I didn’t always know this as mentioned earlier. When I went to Far North Queensland (Pauline Hansen country) I learnt through reading (eg. Henry Reynolds) and talking to people that the mindset of “keeping the abos in their place” was widespread. A cleaner at Djarragun College told me that during a holiday further north a publican had told her that when driving home at night if an aboriginal was on the road the best thing to do was run them over.

At any rate, I’ve read these books which I believe provide adequate documentation of both the mindset and the facts:
All that is solid melts into air by Marshall Berman
The Politics of Suffering by Peter Sutton
The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper
* The Black War by Nicholas Clements
* Why Warriors Lie Down and Die by Richard Trudgen
* Why weren’t we told? by Henry Reynolds
* Forgotten War by Henry Reynolds
* Frontier Justice by Tony Roberts
Disciplining the Savages, Savaging the Disciplines by Martin Nakata
Cosmopolitanism by Kwame Anthony Appiah
Colonial Frontier Massacres, Map (Date Range: 1780 to 1930)
Colonial Frontier Massacres, Timeline
Colonial Frontier Massacres, Preliminary Findings
* Dancing with Strangers by Inga Clendinnen
* The Sinister Glamour of Modernity by Ross Gibson
Australian Frontier Wars: Keith Windschuttle and Henry Reynolds on Lateline (2001, 22 minutes)
Australian Frontier Wars: Keith Windschuttle and Henry Reynolds at the National Press Club (2001, 58 minutes)
* Man from Arltunga: Walter Smith Australian Bushman by Dick Kimber
Gillen's Modest Record edited by Philip Jones
Boyer Lectures 2019, by Rachel Perkins (audio)
debate between Robert Manne and Keith Windschuttle at the Melbourne Writers Festival, part one, part 2  (September, 2003)

Of these, perhaps the best documented books about the massacres (rather than the mindset) are those by Clements (about Tasmania) and Roberts (about Queensland and the NT). I mention this because I accept that everyone is busy on their own projects and doesn't have time to read everything.

I've put a * next to the books which provide evidence that it was standard practice from 1790 - 1930 to kill aboriginal and TSI that settlers had a problem with

Update (Jan 19): Added some more books and links. In particular the debate between Keith Windschuttle and Henry Reynolds at the National Press Club (58 minutes) is worth watching.


Tom Griffiths said...

I won’t wait 2 years for this and it’s probably a pity you waited that long - although, as you indicate, modernity is not inherently a pretty picture and nor has it been a dream run - ie without sharp, often brutal conflict, dispossession and painful upheaval for those Brecht described as the ‘hindmost’.
But on reading Dave’s post I don’t have the same/similar reaction to it as you have. His point was not to deny the venal and brutal motivations and actions of the British colonists or invaders and quotes plenty of Marx to illustrate that the path out of even more brutal and venal feudal social norms was, well, brutal and venal.In relation to this Dalit writers in India - Ambedkar, for example - were under no illusions that British colonialism offered real hope to them because they saw - and experienced on a daily basis - the caste system as their main and brutalizing enemy.
Indigenous Australians had no caste system of course and comparisons can only go so far, but here, it was the environment, the natural world as it was back then, and not caste that held the whip hand. You make reference to Stanner. He has also described how large numbers of aborigines in the Kimberly region left, or drifted I think he said, to townships or stations that ringed a lot of the region quite voluntarily because the availability of food, tea etc was a better - meaning easier - option than their traditional lifestyle. Living ‘naturally’ and in harmony with nature is not fun (brutalizing in its own way) and many were making active choices (wanting something better). To my way of thinking this is an example of the positive side of modernity - offering choices where none had previously existed.
This is not to deny the massacres and the effective and deliberate elbowing out of civic life (integration into the real economy, for example) that the Nth Qld example you give (running ‘em down) illustrates or hints at. This aspect is shameful and needs correcting. However the tide has turned and has been running for some time on this. It has now attained ‘unstoppable’ status.
I am still waiting for greater recognition to be paid to the armed resistance that has also been an ignored feature. Our book Black Resistance attempted to correct this and as poor or compromised as some of its politics were it pointed out explicitly that the aborigines did not ‘fade away’, but put up a fight for their patch of turf. While defeat was inevitable, their resistance is something they can be proud of. It was not surprising in hindsight that some of our motivation was supercharged by what was happening in Ireland. Now there was a bunch of people who simply refused to lie down - and over many centuries.
But if you are having a swipe at a pollyannaish view of modernity, or rather its sinister glamour as Gibson refers to it - and I think we can lump in Reason and The Enlightenment under modernity’s banner - and how this is air brushed in how this is presented historically, then fair enough. Modernity, etc has a class basis, a basis that requires exposing and interrogation I think it was Engels who said something like the “glowing promises of the Enlightenment” contained a lot of snake oil and we should certainly be involved in stripping it off But surely we do this not to oppose globalization and its universalizing aspects of human social development, but to support and encourage it.

Bill Kerr said...

Thanks Tom.

When I post my reply I'm getting a message suggesting there is a character limit (4,096). I haven't encountered that before with Blogger. I'll chop it into two parts and see if that works.

Mainly, I’m looking for recognition that Windschuttle is wrong about the big picture even though he may have blown the whistle on some deception. For me this is a no brainer because all the time in the deep north I come across references that it was ok before 1930 to kill aboriginals. eg. I was curious to read a little book about some local history here (Man from Arltunga by Dick Kimber) simply because I know the author’s son. These earlier writings can be refreshing because they were written before political correctness sanitised everything. That book contained a casual reference to a bushman intent on murdering a few aborginals because they cooked and ate a horse which he had stolen. That was just the way things were then.

Then, if you read about the Cameroon Doomadgee case in Palm Island (The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper) it is very clear that the whole of the Queensland Police Force was prepared to cover up the fact that Chris Hurley killed him with a punch forceful enough to cleave his liver in two. This helps provide a “ring of truth” about the mindset in much of Far North Queensland wrt the whole Native Police disgrace outlined by Ross Gibson.

This was the environment that Henry Reynolds discovered and was shocked by when arriving in Townsville and kick started his research.

And yet some of my comrades don’t get it.

The Uluru statement from the heart has asked for truth telling and a makarrata, politely referred to as a peaceful coming together after a struggle, but really meaning we want to spear you in the thigh for all your lies and deceit and after that shock, well, we can talk.

Yes, truth telling works both ways. Peter Sutton did a great expose of how aboriginal culture sometimes filters the truth in ways that we don’t recognise as the truth. This was based on his experiences of witnessing his tribal relatives being murdered and then stories following from that which protected the tribe. Someone somewhere else had cast a spell.

Bill Kerr said...


I think the problem we have is that the whole truth is hard, really hard and painful. We love to think we are good at it but I believe that often we don’t recognise our own filters. From both sides. My concern is that some of my comrades – clearly not you wrt frontier wars – have donned a particular brand of modernity anti-pseudo left glasses which are filtering out some particular truths (the frontier wars) which are really important in assessing our history. Further, I suspect they are more important than just historically. I have come to see inter generational trauma as real and it sucks up a lot of the oxygen.

Perhaps, sometimes our filters do a no better job than those aboriginal tribal filters that blames a murder on sorcery.

Those comrades in filtering out the truth about frontier wars point to other truths. The sort of half truths written by the Andrew Bolts. We swing to the left, we swing to the right, anything as long as we don’t become a trotskyite. It concerns me that they end up sounding like the One Nation guy, David Oldfield, who told off aboriginal leaders in Hopevale that they would be better off learning Japanese than their own language.

We all have filters, we all need our filters. Our perception is built into our filters and that makes truth telling really difficult. I’m not sure that aboriginal leaders are doing it much better than we are. I’ve had bad and shocking experiences there too, as recent as yesterday, as well as earlier, with Noel (who sounds so good from a distance). Still, I think Rachel Perkins is pretty close in her 2019 Boyer Lectures, not that I agree with all of it. Spear in the leg then lets talk about the really hard stuff.

What can Marx tell us about the real Australian history? Very little, all he is attempting is a global framework based on a historical vision of society moving through stages based on his belief that the socialist stage was not far off. Not quite right. A useful filter but we have to add a lot of flesh, bone and blood to that. David’s approach I think is liturgical.

For me it is a no brainer that modernity has a good side just as it is a no brainer that it also has a bad side.

I think we need a better filter than modernity glasses. I would say a mongrelised version. We have to be able to see why Martin Nakata was quite right to be very angry when his suggestions in Torres Strait were paternistically ignored. Fortunately, he channelled that angry puzzlement into a great analysis about the cultural interface, a mongrellised place where the pre-moderns and moderns meet. Less of a Chinese Wall, more of a meeting place.

David McMullen said...

On Australian Aborigines I am not qualified to comment except to say that it would be nice if both sides of the history wars could be discredited. I'll check out the two Windschuttle/Reynolds videos but that will be about it. I'm preoccupied with other matters.

My main criticism of modernity is that it does not have much in the way of communism so far. It sure retains a lot of shit.

As a tooth and claw supporter of modernity I ought to know more about the thinking of its opponents. That comes into one of my upcoming projects - looking at the reactionary nature of the pseudo left's "anti-imperialism". That will also give me a good dose of stuff about how bad imperialism and colonialism was. However, that is down the track. My focus at the moment is on the "communist" regimes with present reading being on the Chinese cultural revolution. The aim is to write stuff about what we can learn from the experience of socialist revolution in the 20th century. It will be very much a Maoist perspective of course.

My writing can be found at I have revised my booklet, Some Forgotten Marxism. The final section looks at some important things for Marxists to be doing at the moment - (1) oppose the greens; (2) join the global battle for democracy; and (3) come out fiercely against the "communist" tyrannies. Any comments on my stuff would be welcome.

Bill Kerr said...

hi David,
Thanks for commenting. As you know in our current world there are those who argue cogently that modernity beats pre-modern societies (modernity good) and those who argue the ancients were wise in ways we need learn from (eg. that aboriginals managed the environment wisely and knew how to control fire, which, it seems our modern society has yet to work out).

The curious position I've arrived at is that the space in between modern and pre-modern is not so much an unbridgeable gap but a cultural interface (Martin Nakata's term) where many indigenous live. It is their starting point, due to our history. Other descriptors for this place are tribal modernity (arising from the Papunya Tula art movement) and indigenous futurity (Grace Dillon, who has published science fiction on that theme). My own work is about culturally situated design tools (CSDT) which attempts to build a bridge across indigenous culture, mathematics and computer coding.

wrt the Windschuttle/Reynolds videos I suggest watch the longer one to the Press Club. It covers the same ground as the shorter one but far more effectively. I'll write my interpretation of that longer video as a comment here shortly.

Bill Kerr said...

Australian Frontier Wars: Keith Windschuttle and Henry Reynolds at the National Press Club

Who is doing history correctly KW or HR? They both give powerful introductions. IMO HR is trying to work out what happened whereas KW is looking for errors by those who exaggerated - and finds quite a few. I don't think KW is trying to work out what happened. He's a good critic but doesn't construct a plausible picture of what happened.

KW says HR doesn't have the facts to back up his assertions. The crucial point involves the Native Police in Queensland since HR says large numbers were killed there, say 10,000. KW says he just uses a formula, blacks killed = whites killed *10 then add 20%. Later in the video HR disputes this but doesn't give a very clear answer about how his figures were arrived out. He just talks about doing lots and lots of research. Then right at the end he says that the Native Police records have been discovered and supports what he said. This is said in 2015 so unless he made that up it ought to be knowable by now.

(Bit of an aside here: Rachel Perkins in her 2019 Boyer Lectures mentions Jonathan Richards book The Secret War: A true history of Qlnd Native Police (2008) and talks about perhaps 20,000 killed.)

Here's how I see it. For KW it's only true if physical evidence is found or something as equally convincing such as very reliable eye witness report. For HR he takes a combination of various bits of evidence (eg. parliamentary statements by key players, press articles, the amount of $ spent on the Native Police) and the general social mood of key players and puts that together into a plausible picture.

What I come across in reading after reading is that the social mood at that time from many on the ground was that it was ok to kill aborginals if they became annoying (killed cattle, fought back when their women were taken, etc.). More than that actually, they were not really human, and so they didn't matter. This was a typical 19thC colonialist racist viewpoint.

HR makes the point that given the $$ spent on the Native Police and other social factors that massacres as covert policy makes sense. Yes, he hasn't proved it but to me it makes sense. There was no other way open to pastoralists given the conditions to stay alive and become prosperous. Terra Nullius, no treaty, no deals just let us take your land and prosper. Plenty of evidence that many blacks resisted that in various ways. As well as many who went along with it as best they could to survive.

So I think HR is doing good history because he combines known facts with known social attitudes into a compelling picture.

KW says he looked into it seriously when he read stuff by other authors comparing black deaths in australia to the holocaust. But that is other authors not HR.

This is what I mean by the filter. When the facts are in dispute and not clear we rely on our filters, our social perspective. No one in this debate can prove what happened since much of it is oral history, bodies were burned, things were kept quiet according to the HR version. An anticolonialist can point to 19thC racism and all the attitudes that flowed from that (all very well documented) and paint a picture like the HR version. What does KW do? Give me the proven facts, nothing else is relevant. I'd say that is right wing history because those who win the war are in a better position to control the facts. The bodies that can't be found and the oral history can be discounted as unreliable.

KW I think just leaves out the social context or takes a formal not real approach to it. British policy was rule of law so its all ok. But from the settlers on the ground rule of law didn't work. KW doesn't go there. said...

What's that old adage; White Australia has a Black History.

Yes the European invasion of the land helped create modern Australia as we know it, that in itself is no bad thing. But as Alain Badiou says: One always divides into two.

What has happened can't be changed, but the difficulty so many European Australians have in understanding, let alone accepting, the way this nation was created is disconcerting. The last few decades we've come along way,but we need to go further. Bill your tale about the school cleaner in Queensland is quite common of the mindset many Australians outside the inner city ghetoes possess.

One reason this perspective is so common is that Australia was/is the only nation in Queen Lizzies commonwealth that does not have a treaty with its first nation peoples. This being 2020 CE, over 230 years since the European invasion,but it's still too hard for our rulers to act on this. Even something as limited as the Uluru statement goes in the too hard basket.

More i can say,but others here have already covered up. But until we resolve it, 'Poor Fellow My country',is a reality.

Bill Kerr said...

hi Glen,
Thanks for the comment. I listened again to Rachel Perkins 2019 Boyer Lecture (part 3). There was both new information and emphasis in there for me, such as:

Joseph Banks on returning to England reported there were no edible plants on the coast, that aboriginal living there must rely on fishing. It was concluded from his report that the inland was largely uninhabited. The land was thought to almost unpopulated, hence Terra Nullius (although those words apparently weren't used then). This history by Henry Reynolds.

The "few" indigenous living here were declared British subjects

As you say the lack of Treaties or recognition of sovereignty flew in the face of what happened in Africa, Canada, America and NZ at that time. It was against international law. the land was illegally acquired as British property

Inevitably war followed (she explains later why it was war) but it wasn't called war, even though thousands died, because the aboriginals had been deemed to be British subjects.

Worth listening to the whole thing

Glen! said...

Bill, like the rest of us modernity is my reality. Modernity is our world where we should have moved beyond nonsense like faith and superstitions though with a Prime Minister seemingly in cahoots with his invisible, flying spaghetti man in the sky, i worry.

Of course the process of modernity is not linear, nor devoid of winners/losers. I'm looking at an article in the corporate media where the author talks about how proud she is being Australian, about our wealth per adult being the fourth highest in the world, adding our median wealth we're the worlds second wealthiest. She didn't mention the 125,000 homeless each night, having the second highest ammount of casual workers in the world, let alone talking about the growth of piece work, sexily called the gig economy. I don't want to again fall back on adage's but Badiou's one always divides into two resonates loudly.That adage helps me understand dialectics better than falling back on a form of mechanical dialectics.

Like Thomas mentioned, the tide has turned and progress is being made re the relationship between the first nation's peoples of Australia and us new arrivals. But the tide turned late, thus there's lots of ground to make up. I listened to the ABC the other morning where one listener rang up stating her opposition to an apology for our first nation's peoples, speaking about how the Vikings once invaded where her forebears, the Picts, lived but she doesn't want an apology for that. Another talked about the Soviet social-imperialists, (my term), described Czechslosvakia in 1968 resulting in her fleeing but people have to get over it. FFS !!! These examples are historically erroneous, but some people still defer to them as reference points.Thus we need to put this thought process into the dust bin of history.

It's vitally important need to acknowledge the history of dispossession and genocide that occurred in building modern Australia. I despair when i read a comrade writing about having both sides of the history wars discredited. That sounds like a post-modernist babble about nothing being primary or real. I know it's not, but it's a very poor perspective. In. 2020 CE it's an ongoing struggle to discuss how Australia was colonised and built to what it is now. Sorry to again fall back to an adage, but as Lenin said; facts are stubborn things


Bill Kerr said...

hi Glen,
The issues which I've gradually come to understand are causing some of my comrades to differ from me on this are (1) How to get a real grasp of modernity, what is it exactly? and (2) How to do history correctly? Your comment touches on both of these.

(1) ie. Why use the word modernity instead of the word capitalism, which in most cases brought us modernity? I was reading some old blogs and noticed that the ecomodernist manifesto decouples modernity from capitalism, modernity is all the good things capitalism brought us. I think that's too glib sanitisation. I prefer Marshall Berman's approach in "All that is solid melts into air". On page 1 he says:
"To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world - and, at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are."

From Berman's perspective we can critically assess the colonial conquest of Australia.

I would call my view of modernity "mongrel modernity" so that it both looks and reaches backwards to those it has dispossessed as well as forwards. I found an intriguing book here in Alice, "How Aborigines Invented the idea of Contemporary Art" which details the contribution of aboriginal art (part modern, part tribal) to modernity. The key analysis though I still think has been done by Martin Nakata (see book list in the main article).

Scott Morrison and Jacinta Price don't want to change the Australia Day date. I would say change it to a day when a significant battle was fought between the colonists and the aboriginals, one where both sides displayed some honour. Perhaps when Bennelong organised the spearing, but not the killing, of Governor Philip and Philip did not respond with violence but with thought. "Dancing with Strangers" by Inga C gives us an interesting account, perhaps true.

(2) How to do history? I agree with your use of "dispossession" but I wouldn't use the word "genocide" because official British policy was rule of law. I just checked my copy of Henry Reynolds, "Why weren't we told?" and the word genocide is not in the index. If you watch the debate b/w Henry Reynolds and Keith Windschuttle you'll understand that KW started his research because he felt the comparison with Nazi Germany was not right. And on that point, KW is correct IMO. I wrote an analysis of the HR v. KW debate in one of the comments here where I outlined my view of how the history should be done and my belief that HR did it well. It's not just about the facts because at the time of that debate the facts about the Native Police in Queensland were not clear. I think it's about the overall picture - part facts, part social environment, part reasonable projections from what is known. Put that together with the research by others such as Tony Roberts (Frontier Justice) and the HR account rings true to me.
Cheers said...

Hi Bill, sorry for the tawdry reply but i've not been on the computer much the last few days.

Capitalism epitomises much of what defines modernity, but modernity also includes the Socialiss we saw in the soviet Union pre-1956, ditto Albania and China before the restoration of capitalism. Those societies remain modern, though different to the modernity of socialism were.

I don't see only one road, free market capitalism, to modernity,i also see the contradictions of it; like all existing societies. Yes we have wondrous cultural/sporting events like the Australian Open tennis, we have great advances in science like GM, but the fact contemporary capitalism reduces all to commodity status, where we're no longer people, simply consumers is disconcerting.

The exhilarating paradox of modernity is part of its dangerous beauty. We've talked of the treatment of our first nation people,their dispossession, all of this is part of the negative aspect of modernity,but.....The violence of modernity in the European conquest of this land and its peoples has ultimately helped create the great sporting prowess of people like Evonne Goolagong, Tony Mundine, Adam Goodes, not to mention the music of Joe Geia or the art of Albet Namitjira. Modernity has allowed these to develop, being apreciated by many. No, as i again defer to Badiou; one always divides into two.

History is so important. I'm happy to not use the word genocide,though we concur dispossession was real. However in not using the G word i'm cognisant that as recently as the late 1930's the Australian Aboriginals were considered a 'dying ' race, with some people still talking of breeding them out of existence.

Modernity is our reality. There rae those who want to wind the clock back to some mystical,mythical past and they'll try this. Modernity is an ongoing process, no one can say it's complete. The best answer to a crisis in modernity is more modernity as progress does not go in reverse.


Patrick Muldowney said...

Bill; what you saw and re-posted was a debate from the year 2000

Start with this

For some reason a 20year old debate that spoke of the then new discovery of records that were going to be useful and were welcomed by KW was not noticed by you instead the year it was posted -2015- was. So there is now twenty years and KW has not altered his view of what HR says was his wrk that he had left behind 20 yrs earlier! Neither has HR altered his views. We are entitled to conclude these documents contributed nothing or little to the debate. KW ought to be contacted to see what he thinks was freshly contributed by these documents. If it was substantial I think HR or one of his supporters would have boasted about it; but he should be contacted as well!

These are incredibly serious accusations of systematic mass murder over many decades as either policy or practice or some weird woke combination! I think the Pell case is a good example of what people like HR will do with the flimsiest of stories and in this case there are plenty of cases of real deaths of all kinds to build on. But numerous stories of mass killings of groups of 300 and 400 with nothing to substantiate them is to interested historians like KW woke style alarm-ism. When vast numbers of the people were dying from disease and from grog and from all manner of usual issues this just does not ring true to my ears.

Look at the style of this debate. That is what judges must do. They look at the way the witness gives his ‘evidence’ and they compare that to the other side’s evidence. KW won this debate hands down!

Now the point say

‘KW says HR doesn't have the facts to back up his assertions. [that is my almost unqualified conclusion also. I think this guy - HR- literally screams ‘woke’ activist; and I think he is not someone to take seriously at all. Like the 2003 anti war millions and the alarmist climate scientists and the greens generally they are all facing the wrong way. They thus get virtually everything wrong. On the other hand I AM -currently- very favorably disposed to KW from my recent experience of him demonstrating a willingness to do the unpopular and swim against the tide to - like me independently- prove that Pell was totally innocent. We got a 7-0 HC kick at the almighty ABC types and they are all HR types too a tee. They were lock step in their utterly wrong views. Not 1 ABC type can be found who got it right! How about that! I could list the topics and I ‘know’ where HR would stand just as I can with them. Of course I ‘know’ no such thing, but betting is an art not a science. I would risk my money. Now I don’t know this for sure right now but I did not hear that HR came out in agreement with KW over Pell! It would have been news! I would have heard about it. In short HR is IMV from years of watching the carry on of his type (and that is what he is a type) a classic scoundrel. KW had him on toast in this debate! How you are missing that is quite beyond me] The crucial point involves the Native Police in Queensland since HR says large numbers were killed there, say 10,000. KW says he just uses a formula, blacks killed = whites killed *10 then add 20%. Later in the video HR [feebly with the usual style of weasel words] disputes this but doesn't give a very clear answer about how his figures were arrived at. He just talks about doing lots and lots of research. Then right at the end he says that the Native Police records have been discovered and supports what he said. This is said in 2015 so unless he made that up it ought to be knowable by now. (Bit of an aside here: Rachel Perkins in her 2019 Boyer Lectures mentions Jonathan Richards book The Secret War: A true history of Qld Native Police (2008) and talks about perhaps 20,000 killed.)’

Patrick Muldowney said...

So these important records are well and truly dug into 2 decades ago! I have seen this dishonest approach all my life and if you think about it so have you! HR is the enemy of open honest and above board work trying to get at the truth of the past. He is, as they say, as phony and woke as the proverbial 3 dollar bill.

I think woke people and their idiotic distortions are not any help to anyone and that is just as true of indigenous Australian as it has been through my life. Like ½ theorists who will not face reality and correct their stupidity before they shuffle off their mortal coils! All are a total waste of time when they carry on like this! The rightwinger KW on the other hand has the score on the board! Give me an honest rightwinger any day. He is correct to point out how much firewood it requires to burn bodies and just how much work is involved, especially in the actual desert conditions of the case that he was describing. He did a great job in this debate. The body language from HR was very bad; he was as shifty as any phony I have ever seen!

Patrick Muldowney said...

Shooting people leaves lead bullets for archaeologists to find. Where are the bones and the teeth and the bullets that fire can’t destroy? The people were not just ‘decimated’ by disease they were in some instances as he points out wiped out! Just like the Europeans were when the black death came from without to utterly destroy many of their villages etc. Whole swathes of Europe were depopulated. This is nothing other than the reality of the human condition as we are seeing with covid issues. There was no protection. No social isolation. Nothing but death in Europe from the plague and the same applied everywhere else in the world where the discovery animal ventured. That is the human condition.

In this debate I’m struck by the sheer stupidity of HR believing that you can use the term disperse and think that you can get away with explaining this as mass murder policy double speak. Dispersing people is achieved by shooting in their direction not just directly at them to kill and for sport as well. The idea that they were regularly killed in the hundreds and there is zero evidence is impossible for me to accept. The archeology departments of all Australian Universities would have much to help the history dept with. I think there would be a mass grave site by now. There is no such thing. I can at least say that they ought to put the archaeological effort into this. They haven’t. I think I know why. Masses of teeth would be found with the metal bullets. We have metal detectors. Where is their genuine effort? It is a HR well paid desk effort. My desk is as good as his. Judges at least make the effort to listen to both sides as I just did and HR was comprehensively beaten in that debate.

‘For HR he takes a combination of various bits of evidence (eg. parliamentary statements by key players, press articles, the amount of $ spent on the Native Police) and the general social mood of key players and puts that together into a plausible picture.’ That is a perfect description on the conspiracy theory style; I was not left thinking he was plausible at all! At each turn he assumes the most vicious attitude possible from ordinary people. As if they were SS killers. Even our SAS as seen in numerous killings would balk at hundreds of men women and children! HR assumes they were not prepared to tell anything like the truth. He assumes that the Native Police were a murder squad sent out by the key players... Like all woke types he has not a clue about what it takes to kill people as a day in day out job. He just assumes that that was how these people were. Like the US Lynch mobs of the post confederate south that did ultimately get involved in massive murder incidents; but HR thinks the Australians people without having gone thru a massive war will kill hundreds of pitiable people for a couple of cattle! I say you have to have had the war to warp the zeitgeist to that extent. I think this is all wrong.

Just my thoughts but I think human pity and harsh ‘paternalism’ was vastly dominant not this HR proto-nazi thinking. I have not done the work required to have spoken up so please take this in the spirit offered. I think of myself as a good person that must be convinced not a KW defender etc. I think I am better at reading people’s character than most and IMV HR is not to be trusted put against KW!

The following pulls together some of my thinking that is hostile to much that is current! Yet he was just a silly trot! and

Bill Kerr said...

I added some more links to the original article.

Colonial Massacres Frontier Timeline documents 311 massacres of aboriginal and TSI but only 4 of them have numbers greater than 100, and another 8 are estimated as 100 deaths. That still leaves 300 massacres with numbers under 100. The Preliminary Findings link says that average deaths per massacre of aboriginal and TSI is 28.

I've added another link of the transcripts of a debate between Robert Manne (part one) and Keith Windschuttle ( part two

KW had the advantage of speaking second but certainly he does argue a strong case that Henry Reynolds and Lyndall Ryan told some fibs and when caught out by KW didn't reply to his exposure.

Pat, you raised the question of style, that being sufficient for you to rant against Henry Reynolds. The point I would make is that if you admire the style of KW (meticulously researching the facts and exposing, not abusing, those who distort them) then why don't you try to imitate him? You haven't done any significant research and you abuse HR because you disagree with him. I agree that style is important and you need to improve yours.

The important question for me still is how do we do history well? You describe my preferred way as "conspiracy theory". I can see some point in discussing that further. My shorthand would be factiness (KW) versus truthiness (HR) but it's a long discussion.

The point I can make now is this. HR may have made some stuff up but he didn't make it all up. There are many authors you have to refute to justify some of your claims. I've gone through the list of books I've read and put a * next to the ones that provide evidence that in this period it was ok for whites to go kill an aboriginal or TSI they had a problem with. In some of your assertions you transfer a mentality of the way "ordinary people" think and act today was similar to how they thought and acted then. That's not a good way to do history.