OutlineThe term "history wars" refers to an ideological conflict over how to perceive as a nation, framed largely by the respective visions of Labor Party Prime Minister Paul Keating (1991–1996), who saw race relations as central to the nation's character and who gave new attention to Indigenous Australians, Indigenous people's issues, and Liberal Prime Minister John Howard (1996–2007), who sought to re-establish a conservative view of Australia that valorised the nation's achievements and was grounded in "Judeo-Christian ethics, the progressive spirit of the enlightenment and the institutions and values of British culture". The conflict was played out largely in the popular media, books, and think-tank lectures. Commentators on the political left argued that Australia's national identity was linked to its treatment of Indigenous people and advocated making amends for past injustices on moral grounds, while those on the political right argued that the left had exaggerated the harms done to Indigenous Australians, that stories of abuses of Indigenous people were undermining Australia's coherent identity, and that contemporary Australians did not feel responsible for abuses committed in the past. Much of the public controversy was related to the release of the government's report on the Stolen Generations commissioned by Keating but released after Howard took office, titled ''Bringing Them Home''. In 1968 Professor Bill Stanner, W. E. H. "Bill" Stanner, an Australian anthropology, anthropologist, coined the term the "Great Australian Silence" in a Boyer Lectures, Boyer Lecture titled "After the Dreaming",Stanner pp. 198–248 where he argued that the writing of History of Australia, Australian history was incomplete. He asserted that Australian national history as documented up to that point had largely been presented in a positive light, but that Indigenous Australians had been virtually ignored. He saw this as a structural and deliberate process to omit "several hundred thousand Aboriginal people who lived and died between 1788 and 1938 ... (who were but) ... negative facts of history and ... were in no way consequential for the modern period". A new strand of Australian historiography subsequently emerged which gave much greater attention to the negative experiences of Indigenous Australians during the History of Australia (1788–1850), British settlement of Australia.In the 1970s and 1980s, historians such as Manning Clark and Henry Reynolds (historian), Henry Reynolds published work which they saw as correcting selective historiography that had misrepresented or ignored Indigenous Australian history. The historian Geoffrey Blainey argued in the literary and political journal ''Quadrant (magazine), Quadrant'' in 1993 that the telling of Australian history had moved from an unduly positive rendition (the "Three Cheers View") to an unduly negative view (the "#Black armband / white blindfold debate, black armband") and Australian commentators and politicians have continued to debate this subject. Interpretations of Aboriginal history became part of the wider political debate sometimes called the '#History wars and culture wars, culture wars' during the tenure of the Coalition (Australia), Coalition government from 1996 to 2007, with Prime Minister of Australia John Howard publicly championing the views of some of those associated with ''Quadrant''.Robert Manne (November 2008)
History wars and culture warsThe "history wars" are widely viewed, by external observers and participants on both sides as similar to the "culture war" underway in the United States. William D. Rubinstein, writing for the conservative British think tank known as the Social Affairs Unit, refers to the history wars as "the Culture War down under". Participants in the debate including Keith Windschuttle and Robert Manne are frequently described as "culture warriors" for their respective points of view.
Black armband / white blindfold debateThe "black armband" debate concerns whether or not accounts of Australian history gravitate towards an overly negative or an overly positive point of view. The ''black armband view of History of Australia, history'' was a phrase first used by Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey in his 1993 ''Sir John Latham (jurist), John Latham Memorial Lecture'' to describe views of history which, he believed, posited that "much of [pre-multicultural] Australian history had been a disgrace" and which focused mainly on the treatment of minority groups (especially Aboriginal people). This he contrasted with the ''Three Cheers'' view, according to which: "nearly everything that came after [the convict era] was believed to be pretty good". Blainey argued that both such accounts of Australian history were inaccurate: "The Black Armband view of history might well represent the swing of the pendulum from a position that had been too favourable, too self-congratulatory, to an opposite extreme that is even more unreal and decidedly jaundiced." The lecture was subsequently published in the political and literary journal, ''Quadrant (magazine), Quadrant'',Geoffrey Blainey, 'Drawing Up a Balance Sheet of Our History', in Quadrant (magazine), Quadrant, vol.37 ( 7–8), July/August 1993 which at the time was edited by academic and political scientist Robert Manne and later by writer and historian Keith Windschuttle, two of the leading "history warriors", albeit on opposing sides of the debate. The phrase then began to be used by some commentators pejoratively to describe historians viewed as writing excessively critical Australian history of Australia, history "while wearing a black armband" of "mourning and grieving, or shame". New interpretations of Australia's history since 1788 were contested for focussing almost exclusively on official and unofficial imperialism, Exploitation of labour, exploitation, ill-treatment, colonialism, colonial dispossession and cultural genocide and ignoring positive aspects of Australia's history. Historian Manning Clark, author of the best-known history of Australia, was named by Blainey in his 1993 speech as having "done much to spread the gloomy view and also the compassionate view with his powerful prose and Old Testament phrases". The Howard Government's responses to the question of how to recount Australian history were initially formulated in the context of former Labor prime minister Paul Keating's characterisation of the subject. John Howard argued in a 1996 Sir Robert Menzies Lecture that the "balance sheet of Australian history" had come to be misrepresented: In 2009, Howard's successor Kevin Rudd also called for moving away from a ''black-arm view'': Stephen Muecke, Professor of Ethnography at the University of New South Wales, contributed to the debate by arguing that black armband events bring people together in common remembrance and cited Anzac Day as an example; while Aboriginal lawyer Noel Pearson argued that whilst there was much that is worth preserving in the cultural heritage of non-Aboriginal Australia, "To say that ordinary Australians who are part of the national community today do not have any connection with the shameful aspects of our past is at odds with our exhortations that they have connections to the prideful bits". The notion of the ''white blindfold'' view of History of Australia, history entered the debate as a pejorative counter-response to the notion of the "black armband school".Anna Clark (historian), Clark, Anna
Genocide debateThe case for using the term "Australian genocide" rests on evidence from various sources that people argue proves some form of genocide. People cite the list of massacres of Indigenous Australians by white settlers, mainly in the 19th century. Others have pointed to the dramatic reduction in the Tasmanian Aboriginal population in the 19th century and the forced removal of generations of Aboriginal children from their parents during the 20th century as evidence of genocide. The evidence includes documentation of the wish, and sometimes intention, of a significant proportion of late 19th-century and early 20th-century white Australians to see the Aboriginal "race" eliminated. Documents include published letters to the editors of high-circulation newspapers. Certainly this was the case in Queensland, in terms of Indigenous people the most populated section of Australia and certainly the colony with the most violent frontier. In June 1866 Sir Robert Herbert summing up his experience after little more than five years as the first Premier of this colony wrote: The "system", for which Herbert was among those personally responsible, was the "Native Police system" which typically went about "dispersing" any sign of Indigenous resistance at the frontier by use of deadly early morning attacks on Aboriginal camps. This semi-military force was allowed to go about its business, typically instigating large scale deadly retaliation without prior investigating of alleged crime. They generally took no prisoners at the frontier and there are no signs that they ever enforced any other "law" than "might is right". It was a force designed more in the manner of the recent times phenomenon known as the "death-squad" and the secrecy of its operations was ensured by the remoteness of its operations, added a system that denied the evidence from "blacks" while the force itself was instructed to ensure that there would always be only one white witness, the officer in charge of each detachment. Recently the first ever attempt to scientifically calculate the number of Aboriginal people killed in encounters with the Native Police indicates that numbers may exceed 45,000.Evans, Raymond & Ørsted–Jensen, Robert: 'I Cannot Say the Numbers that Were Killed': Assessing Violent Mortality on the Queensland Frontier" (paper at AHA 9 July 2014 at University of Queensland) publisher Social Science Research Network The phrase "useless race" was commonly expressed in Queensland, including in an 1877 editorial in ''The Queenslander'' (the weekly edition of the colony's main newspaper, the ''Brisbane Courier''): "The desire for progressive advancement and substantial prosperity is, after all, stronger than sentimental dislike to the extinction of a savage and useless race". Classifying Aboriginal people as a useless or unimprovable race was common. Debating the native police and the frontier in public in 1880 in the columns of ''The Queenslander'', a prominent settler wrote: "And being a useless race, what does it matter what they suffer any more than the distinguished philanthropist who writes in this behalf cares for the wounded half dead pigeon he tortures at his shooting matches?". Remarks which were followed up in October of that years by Boyd Dunlop Morehead, one of the leading landholders, manager of the Scottish Australian Investment Co.'s ''Bowen Downs'' in 1866–81 and a future Premier, could be heard making the following acknowledgement in a parliamentary speech, saying, yes settlers in the past did go After the introduction of the word "genocide" in the 1940s by Raphael Lemkin, Lemkin himself and most comparative scholars of genocide and many general historians, such as Robert Hughes (critic), Robert Hughes, Ward Churchill, Leo Kuper and Jared Diamond, basing their analysis on previously published histories, present the extinction of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people as a text book example of a genocide. The Australian historian of genocide, Ben Kiernan, in his recent history of the concept and practice, ''Blood and soil: a world history of genocide and extermination from Sparta to Darfur'' (2007), treats the Australian evidence over the first century of colonisation as an example of genocide. Among scholars specialising in Australian history much recent debate has focused on whether indeed what happened to groups of Indigenous people, and especially the Aboriginal Tasmanians, Tasmanian Aboriginal people, during the European colonisation of Australia can be classified as genocide. According to Mark Levene, most Australian experts are now "considerably more circumspect". In the specific instance of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people, Henry Reynolds (historian), Henry Reynolds, who takes events in other regions of colonial Australia as marked by "genocidal moments", argues that the records show that British administrative policy in Tasmania was explicitly concerned to avoid extermination. However, in practice, the activities of British people on the ground led to virtual extinction.Henry Reynolds, "Genocide in Tasmania?"
Controversy over smallpox in AustraliaNOTE that there is a long and continuing scholarly debate, involving historians and medical experts, about the nature and origin of the 1789 outbreak near Sydney, and to a lesser extent of the 1830-1832 outbreak further West in New South Wales, and of the 1860s outbreak(s). Much of this debate is not directly relevant to the History Wars, and so the account of it below has been copied to a separate page on Smallpox in Australia. This will allow the present article to deal more selectively with material relevant to the History Wars. The arrival of smallpox in Australia is of uncertain origin and is a major theme in the history wars. The lack of immunity among Aboriginal Australians to introduced diseases saw smallpox or some related disease inflict a devastating toll on the Aboriginal population. Though the First Fleet itself did not arrive with any known carriers of the disease, the observation of an epidemic, usually taken to be smallpox, among the Aboriginal population of Sydney around 16 months after the British arrived has led to speculation that the Fleet itself brought this disease to Australia. Some historians have suggested that the disease may have been either released by accident or via theft of medicine stores. Inoculation was commonly practised by surgeons decades before 1796 and even after the process of smallpox vaccination was introduced by Edward Jenner. Dried smallpox scab was thus commonly stored in glass containers as part of a surgeon's remedies. Early speculation on the origins of the disease is recorded in the writing of a First Fleet Captain of Marines, Watkin Tench, who noted an "extraordinary calamity" among the Aboriginal people of Sydney, beginning in April 1789. Repeated accounts of dead bodies marked with pustules consistent with smallpox began being reported around Sydney Harbour around this time. Tench wrote that the colonists' observations had led them to suppose that smallpox was not known in New South Wales and as no First Fleeters had suffered from the disease, its sudden existence among the Aboriginal people was "inexplicable". Tench speculated as to whether the disease might be indigenous to the country; or whether it had been brought to the colony by the French expedition of Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse, Lapérouse a year before; traversed the continent from the West where Europeans had previously landed; brought by expedition of James Cook; or indeed by the first British settlers at Sydney. "Our surgeons brought out Variolation, variolous matter in bottles", he wrote, "but to infer that it was produced from this cause were a supposition so wild as to be unworthy of consideration." Medical scientists such as Sir Edward Charles Stirling, Edward Stirling and Sir John Burton Cleland, John Cleland published a number of books and articles between 1911 and 1966 suggesting that smallpox arrived in Northern Australia from an Asian source, an hypothesis later taken up by some scholars and usually attributed to Makassan contact with Australia – see below. While there were cases of smallpox in Macassar during 1789, there are no reports of it occurring prior to that period. However, History of smallpox#Island South East Asia, smallpox had long been present in other islands of South East Asia – possibly as early the 4th century, according to virologist Frank Fenner. There were outbreaks of smallpox on the islands of the Indonesian archipelago throughout the 18th century. These included, for example, major epidemics in the Sultanate of Tidore (in the Moluccas) during the 1720s, the Sultanate of Banjar (South Kalimantan), in 1734, 1750–51, 1764–65 and 1778–79; and in southern Sumatra during the 1750s, the 1770s, and in 1786. Macassans had contact with these areas both directly and indirectly (through foreign traders and invaders). A rival theory, that smallpox was introduced to NSW in 1789 by British settlers, was put forward in 1914 by the director of the Australian Quarantine Service, Dr John Cumpston, J. H. L. Cumpston.Cumpston, JHL "The History of Small-Pox in Australia 1788–1908", Government Printer (1914) Melb. In 1983, Professor Noel Butlin, an economic historian, suggested: "it is possible and, in 1789, likely, that infection of the Aboriginal people was a deliberate extermination act". Historians David Day and Henry Reynolds repeated Butlin's claims, and in 2001 Reynolds wrote: "one possibility is that the epidemic was deliberately or accidentally let loose by someone in the settlement at Sydney Cove. Not surprisingly this is a highly contentious proposition. If true, it would clearly fall within the ambit of the Genocide Convention". Butlin argued that while Macassan fishermen could possibly "have landed the virus on the Australian mainland at some stage their ability to do so was limited". He contended that it is highly unlikely that this virus should have been brought down from the Gulf of Carpentaria to coincide with the first major outbreak "just fifteen months after the landing of the first fleet". Besides the time factor connected to Macassans (of more than seven to eight weeks), the type of vessels, the limited potential for contact between Aboriginal people and fishermen, the lack of clothing as a carrier, and the fact that the virus is destroyed or seriously reduced in contact with salt water, makes the Macassan theory highly unlikely: "[infected] Macassans would be either dead or fully recovered long before reaching the Gulf of Carpentaria. Whereas transfer somehow, theft accident or the like, from scab originally stored in glass containers carried by just one of the seven medical officers on the first fleet seems the most likely cause. C. C. Macknight, C. C. Macknight (1986), an authority on the centuries-old Makassan contact with Australia, interaction between Indigenous Australians and the people of Makassar (Sulawesi, later part of Indonesia), revived the theory that smallpox was introduced to Australia by Makassan mariners visiting Arnhem Land. Australian virologist Frank Fenner (1988) – who in 1977–80 led the successful World Health Organization (WHO) campaign to eradicate smallpox and was the principal author of a 1988 WHO report, ''Smallpox and its Eradication'' – pointed out that no cases of smallpox were reported among anyone on the First Fleet. There are no reported cases among British or Aboriginal people at Port Jackson over the following 15 months. It was, therefore, unlikely that a person suffering from smallpox and travelling with the First Fleet had caused the 1789 outbreak. A 1997 academic thesis established that the chickenpox theory (see below) dates from long before 1985. The settlement historian Peter J. Dowling, in his ANU PhD thesis ''"A Great Deal of Sickness"'' noted evidence that the 1789 epidemic was one to which (unlike smallpox) older European children were immune. Despite this, Dowling largely discounts the chickenpox theory, which then had few public champions. He argues that most Europeans in the colony seem to have accepted the outbreaks were smallpox, a disease with whose signs they "would have been familiar". Yet he documents considerable uncertainty among the authorities, and also disagreements among colonial surgeons, on this point. He notes for instance the military surgeon Mair's argument that the 1789 and 1830 epidemics were the same disease, but also that Mair's "conclusions were, however, not unchallenged. Dr George Busby (1831)... concluded that the disease was varicella [i.e. chickenpox] and not smallpox.... Busby's conclusion... was supported by the Inspector of Colonial Hospitals, Dr. James Bowman (1831)". Dowling writes, "Despite the varied nature of the surviving historical documents there is strong evidence that the three epidemics were indeed smallpox", but notes "The little evidence we have pertaining to the 1789 epidemic in the Sydney region has left some historians and medical writers (Crosby 1986; Cumpston 1914; Curson 1985; Hingston 1985: 278) with doubts as to whether it was smallpox. Chicken pox (varicella) has been proposed as the main alternative to smallpox (Hingston 1985:278), with others suggesting that it was cowpox, a form of 'native pox', or some other fatal disease, not specified." Dowling also reports that by 1830, with the assistance of well-meaning settlers, many Aboriginal people seem to have been either vaccinated (with cowpox), or else inoculated /"variolated" with "variolous matter" (scrapings of dried and perhaps partly de-natured smallpox scab)—a method which would seem to have risked spreading either smallpox or its partial lookalike chickenpox, but which provided significant protection against smallpox. David Day (historian), David Day (2001) reiterated Butlin's argument and suggested that members of Sydney's garrison of Royal Marines may have attempted to use smallpox as a biological weapon in 1789. The following year, however, John Connor stated that Day's theory was "unsustainable". In a 2002 book, ''Invisible Invaders'', historian Judy Campbell (historian), Judy Campbell – advised by Fenner – reviewed reports of disease amongst Aboriginal people from 1780 to 1880, including the smallpox epidemics of 1789–90, the 1830s and the 1860s. Campbell argues that the evidence, including that contained in these reports shows that, while many diseases such as tuberculosis ''were'' introduced by British colonists, this was not so for smallpox and that the speculations of British responsibility made by other historians were based on tenuous evidence, largely on the mere coincidence that the 1789–90 epidemic was first observed afflicting the Aboriginal people not long after the establishment of the first British settlement. Campbell argues instead that the north–south route of transmission of the 1860s epidemics (which is generally agreed), also applied in the earlier ones. Campbell noted that the fleets of fast Macassan fishing vessels, propelled by monsoonal winds, reached Australia after being at sea for as little as ten to fifteen days, well within the incubation period of smallpox. The numbers of people travelling in the fleets were large enough to sustain smallpox for extended periods of time without it 'burning out'. The Macassans spent up to six months fishing along the northern Australian coastline and Aboriginal people had "day-to-day contact with the islanders. Aboriginals visited the praus and the camps the visitors set up on shore, they talked and traded...." She also notes that Butlin, writing in 1983, "did not recognize that Aboriginals were 'great travellers', who spread infection over long distances...." and that smallpox was spread through their extensive social and trading contacts as well as by Aboriginal people fleeing from the disease. Campbell also cited British historian Charles Wilson (historian), Charles Wilson, who cited "medical microbiology" in disagreeing with Butlin about the origins of the 1789 outbreak, and "doubted his estimates of its demographic impact", as well as "First Fleet historian Alan Frost [who] also disagreed with Butlin's views". The independent scholar Christopher Warren (2007) claimed that Fenner did not address the issue of variolous material brought in bottles by the First Fleet. This material was carried by First Fleet surgeons for inoculation purposes. Warren argued that, even if the variolous material was degraded, it could still infect susceptible people. Smallpox spread by the inhalation of airborne droplets of virus in situations of personal contact or by contact with blankets, clothing or other objects that an infected person had recently used. Warren also suggested that Frost's view was based on a false premise: that the First Fleet's stocks of virus were sterilised by summer heat. In a 13-page discussion of medical literature on the survival of smallpox virus, Warren conceded there was evidence that "virus from scabs survived for mere months at a continuous temperature of 30C". However, he assumed the bottles were, both on the voyage and in Sydney, properly curated and "insulated in chests and packaging". He argued that, "The chest contents would have remained close to each day’s average [temperature] depending on the insulation and the thermal mass". Hence, he concluded, "First Fleet stocks never experienced 30C, day and night". Craig Mear (2008) and Michael J. Bennett (2009) have disputed Campbell's hypothesis that smallpox was introduced to Australia in 1789 through contact between Aboriginal people and mariners from Makassar. H. A. Willis (2010), in a survey of much of the literature discussed above, reiterated the argument made by Campbell. In response, Warren (2011) suggested that Willis had not taken into account research on how heat affects the smallpox virus, cited by the World Health Organization. In reply, Willis (2011) reiterated that his position was supported by a closer reading of Frank Fenner's report to the World Health Organization (1988) and invited readers to consult that report online. Macknight re-entered the debate in 2011, declaring: "The overwhelming probability must be that it [smallpox] was introduced, like the later epidemics, by [Macassan] Trepanging, trepangers on the north coast and spread across the continent to arrive in Sydney quite independently of the new settlement there." In 2010 John Carmody, a professor of medicine, put forward an alternative theory on Robyn Williams's ''Science Show'' on ABC Radio National. Carmody asserted that the 1789 epidemic could not have been smallpox and was instead chickenpox. Carmody argued that smallpox, being much less infectious than chickenpox, could not have spread so rapidly from tribe to tribe around Sydney (nor from Arnhem Land to the Sydney region); but if present would certainly have infected some of the European colonists: "If it had really been smallpox, I would have expected about 50 cases amongst the colonists". This would have produced several recorded deaths, since smallpox has about a 30% fatality rate. However, the only non-Aboriginal person reported to have died in this outbreak was a seaman called Joseph Jeffries, who was recorded as being "a North American Indian". Carmody pointed out that chickenpox can take a severe toll on populations with little hereditary or acquired immunological resistance, and that it was certainly present in the colony. With regard to how smallpox might have reached the colony, Carmody later said: "There is absolutely no evidence to support any of the theories and some of them are fanciful and far-fetched." In response, Christopher Warren rejected suggestions that chickenpox caused the 1789 epidemic. Carmody's argument on the ''Science Show'' was not, for some time, followed by a scholarly paper, and was ignored by many historians. Another medical researcher working on Aboriginal epidemiology, G. E. Ford, stated in late 2010 that he had previously and independently reached Carmody's conclusions: "In a project applying a specialist understanding of disease and epidemiology from my own previous professional life as a pathobiologist, I had verified that the small pox was not Smallpox but was Chicken Pox brought to the colony in a latent form later known as Shingles". Ford also said that he had "identified a likely convict carrier and the means by which the chicken pox infection spread through the population". However Ford concedes that neither he nor Carmody can claim priority for this theory since: "In 1985 a teacher of 'medical geography', Peter Curson of Macquarie University presented a good case on historic evidence that the disease was chickenpox. [Also] At a conference on "Aboriginal Studies" in 1987, archaeologist Barry Wright presented his conclusion that: 'I believe ... that an introduced epidemic of chickenpox not smallpox swept through the tribes, its effects every bit as deadly as if it had been smallpox.'" To maintain coherence with earlier historical accounts, Ford refers to "the small pox epidemic" of 1789–1791, but makes two words of "small pox" and reminds the reader that he believes the "small pox" in question was "Chicken Pox, a small pox other than Smallpox". Warren (2014) subsequently rejected the theory that the 1789 epidemic had originated from Macassar. He claimed that there was no evidence of a major outbreak of smallpox in Macassar before 1789; there were no Indigenous trade routes that would have enabled overland transmission from Arnhem Land to Port Jackson; the Makassan theory was contradicted by Aboriginal oral tradition, and 1829 was the earliest point at which there was possible evidence that Makassans had been the source of a smallpox outbreak. Yet in a paper in February 2014 on historic Aboriginal demography, the Australian National University's Boyd Hunter and Sydney University's Jack Carmody continued to argue that the recorded behaviour of the epidemic rules out smallpox and indicates chickenpox. A few weeks later, the ''Ockham’s Razor'' radio program for 13 April 2014 invited Chris Warren to restate his 2013-2014 arguments that the 1789 outbreak was in fact smallpox, and was probably deliberately introduced. Warren argued it was suspicious that in April 1789 a smallpox epidemic "was reported amongst the Port Jackson Aboriginal tribes who were actively resisting settlers from the First Fleet". He acknowledged Carmody's and Ford's argument that chickenpox was present on the First Fleet and would have become infectious via shingles. Yet, citing Watkin Tench's journal, he argued that smallpox was also present in 1789 in still-viable "variolous matter", sealed in the surgeons' glass jars, and would still have been viable for a number of years. Carmody responded briefly to Warren's assertions, saying that there was "no hard medical evidence" that the 1789 outbreak was smallpox. He also rejected Warren's argument that the surgeons' smallpox samples were still viable in April 1789. Seven years later, Carmody remarked in ''Australian Book Review'' that he wished commentators who refer to the 1789 outbreak as smallpox “would not lazily repeat outdated notions”, since there is damning medical evidence against this view: However, Warren and others cite the authority of Frank Fenner. Warren writes, “The chickenpox theory was first floated by Richard Hingston in 1985 and was immediately rebutted by a leading virologist, Professor Frank Fenner.” Their reference is to an exchange of letters in February 1985 in the ''Medical Journal of Australia''. Hingston, a doctor who said he had faced a deadly epidemic of chickenpox in Papua, took Fenner to task for implying that the 1789 outbreak was smallpox: Fenner, in his reply, conceded Hingston had a point: “Chicken-pox is a possible alternative diagnosis for the 1789 epidemic among the Aborigines of eastern Australia… but I favour the more widespread opinion that the disease was smallpox”. Fenner offered a group of arguments that collectively, he believed, justified his stance. One involves evidence that the 1789 and the 1830-1832 epidemics were the same disease. Fenner cited the regimental surgeon John Mair who in 1831 was sent by the NSW Governor to the Bathurst region to investigate this second epidemic. Mair reported that it was definitely true smallpox (a disease that has a 20%-30% death rate for Europeans). Mair also found evidence that Aborigines with scarring from a much older epidemic (perhaps, Fenner suggested, the 1789 one) might now be immune. However later research by Peter J Dowling (ironically a strong supporter of Fenner’s view) appears to weaken this argument. Dowling found that Mair arrived too late to observe patients ill with the disease. Moreover, the Surgeon in charge of the Bathurst hospital, George Busby, disagreed; he diagnosed chickenpox. Busby, backed by the senior surgeon James Bowman, was therefore able to inform the Governor that cases of the disease were unlikely, with proper medical treatment, “to prove fatal in more than a few instances”. Like Mair, Busby did not seem aware that chickenpox might present quite differently in Aborigines. He attributed their much higher deathrate in 1831 not to lack of immunity but to poorer living conditions and absence of medical care. Mair also noted that the 1831 outbreak was more dangerous to adults than children, a pattern that is now considered typical of chickenpox outbreaks, though the converse of smallpox. Seth Carus of the National Defense University in the US wrote in 2015 that: "Ultimately, we have a strong circumstantial case supporting the theory that someone deliberately introduced smallpox in the Aboriginal population". However, in 2020 the Historian Henry Reynolds, though assuming the 1789 epidemic was smallpox, told the ABC that just how it could have got to Sydney remained and might always remain “a real mystery”. Also, in August 2021, the historian Cassandra Pybus, in
Stolen Generations debateDespite the lengthy and detailed findings set out in the 1997 ''Bringing Them Home'' report into the Stolen Generation, which documented the removal of Aboriginal children from their families by Australian State and Federal government agencies and Christian Church, church missions, the nature and extent of the removals have been disputed within Australia, with some commentators questioning the findings contained in the report and asserting that the Stolen Generation has been exaggerated. Sir Ronald Wilson, former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission and a Commissioner on the Inquiry, has stated that none of the more than 500 witnesses who appeared before the Inquiry were cross-examined. This has been the basis of criticism by the Coalition (Australia), Coalition Government and by the anthropologist Ron Brunton in a booklet published by the Institute of Public Affairs that was criticised in turn by the lawyer Hal Wootten. An Australian Federal Government submission has questioned the conduct of the Commission which produced the report, arguing that the Commission failed to critically appraise or test the claims on which it based the report and failed to distinguish between those separated from their families "with and without consent, and with and without good reason". Not only has the number of children removed from their parents been questioned, but also the intent and effects of the government policy. Some critics, such as columnist and social commentator Andrew Bolt, have questioned the very existence of the Stolen Generation. Bolt stated that it is a "preposterous and obscene" myth and that there was actually no policy in any state or territory at any time for the systematic removal of "half-caste" Aboriginal children. Robert Manne responded that Bolt did not address the documentary evidence demonstrating the existence of the Stolen Generations and that this is a clear case of historical revisionism (negationism), historical denialism.Manne, Rober
Windschuttle's ''The Fabrication of Aboriginal History''The historian Keith Windschuttle has disputed the historiography for the number of children in the Stolen Generations as well as the violence of European colonisation, arguing that left-wing scholars had exaggerated these events for their own political purposes. Windschuttle's 2002 book ''The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume One: Van Diemen's Land 1803–1847'' focuses on the Black War in Tasmania; he says that there is credible evidence for the violent deaths of only 118 Tasmanian Aboriginal people, as having been directly killed by the British, although there were undoubtedly an unquantifiable number of other deaths for which no evidence exists. He argues that the Tasmanian Aboriginal population was devastated by a lethal cocktail of introduced diseases to which they had little or no resistance due to their isolation from the mainland and the rest of humanity for thousands of years. The deaths and infertility caused by these introduced diseases, combined with the deaths from what violent conflict there was, rapidly decimated the relatively small Aboriginal population. Windschuttle also examined the nature of those violent episodes that did occur and concluded that there is no credible evidence of warfare over territory. Windschuttle argues that the primary source of conflict between the British and the Aboriginal people was raids by Aboriginal people, often involving violent attacks on settlers, to acquire goods (such as blankets, metal implements and 'exotic' foods) from the British. With this and with a detailed examination of footnotes in and evidence cited by the earlier historical works, he criticises the claims by historians such as Henry Reynolds (historian), Henry Reynolds and Professor Lyndall Ryan that there was a campaign of guerrilla warfare against British settlement. Particular historians and histories that are challenged include Henry Reynolds and the histories of Wiktionary:massacre, massacres, particularly in Tasmania (such as in the Cape Grim massacre) but also elsewhere in Australia. Windschuttle's claims are based upon the argument that the 'orthodox' view of Australian history were founded on hearsay or the misleading use of evidence by historians. Windschuttle argues that, in order to advance the 'deliberate genocide' argument, Reynolds has misused source documentation, including that from British colonist sources, by quoting out of context. In particular, he accuses Reynolds of selectively quoting from responses to an 1830 survey in Tasmania in that Reynolds quoted only from those responses that could be construed as advocating "extermination", "extinction", and "extirpation" and failed to mention other responses to the survey, which indicated that a majority of respondents rejected genocide, were sympathetic to the plight of the Aboriginal people, feared that conflict arising from Aboriginal attacks upon settlers would result in the extinction of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people and advocated the adoption of courses of action to prevent this happening. Windschuttle's claims and research have been disputed by some historians. In ''Whitewash: On Keith Windschuttle's Fabrication of Aboriginal History'', an anthology including contributions from Henry Reynolds (historian), Henry Reynolds and Professor Lyndall Ryan, edited and introduced by Robert Manne, professor of politics at La Trobe University, Manne argues that Windschuttle's arguments are "unpersuasive and unsupported either by independent research or even familiarity with the relevant secondary historical literature". Other academics including Stephen Muecke, Marcia Langton, and Heather Goodall also expressed concerns about Windschuttle's work. In "Contra Windschuttle", an article published in the conservative publication ''Quadrant (magazine), Quadrant'', S.G. Foster examined some of the evidence that Windschuttle presented on one issue, Stanner's notion of the "Great Australian Silence". In Foster's opinion, the evidence produced by Windschuttle did not prove his case that the "Great Australian Silence" was largely a myth. Windschuttle argues that, in the years prior to Stanner's 1968 Boyer lecture, Australian historians had not been silent on the Aboriginal people although, in most cases, the historians' "discussions were not to Stanner's taste" and the Aboriginal people "might not have been treated in the way Reynolds and his colleagues would have liked". Foster argues that Windschuttle is "merciless with those who get their facts wrong" and that the fact that Windschuttle has also made a mistake means that he did not meet the criteria that he used to assess 'orthodox historians' he was arguing against and whom he accused of deliberately and extensively misrepresenting, misquoting, exaggerating and fabricating evidence relating to the level and nature of violent conflict between Aboriginal people and white settlers. At the time of the publication of ''The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume One'' it was announced that a second volume, to be published in 2003, would cover claims of frontier violence in New South Wales and Queensland, and a third, in 2004, would cover Western Australia. On 9 February 2008, however, it was announced that the second volume, anticipated to be published later in 2008, would be titled ''The Fabrication of Australian History, Volume 2: The "Stolen Generations"'' and would address the issue of the removal of Aboriginal children (the "stolen generations") from their families in the 20th century. The new volume was released in January 2010, now listed as ''Volume 3'', with a statement that Volumes 2 and 4 would appear later. Announcing the publication, Windschuttle claimed that the film ''Rabbit-Proof Fence (film), Rabbit-Proof Fence'' had misrepresented the child removal at the centre of the story, and offered inaccurate accounts of Molly's journey as it was recounted by her daughter, Doris Pilkington. These claims were subsequently rejected by the makers of the film. As of October 2021, Volumes 2 and 4 have not appeared.
Stuart Macintyre's ''The History Wars''In 2003, the Australian historians Stuart Macintyre and Anna Clark (historian), Anna Clark published ''The History Wars''. This was a study of the background of, and arguments surrounding, recent developments in Australian historiography, and concluded that the History Wars had done damage to the nature of objective Australian history. At the launch of his book, historian Stuart Macintyre emphasised the political dimension of these arguments and said the Australian debate took its cue from the Enola Gay controversy in the United States. The book was launched by former prime minister Paul Keating, who took the opportunity to criticise conservative views of Australian history, and those who hold them (such as the then–prime minister John Howard), saying that they suffered from "a failure of imagination", and said that ''The History Wars'' "rolls out the canvas of this debate". Macintyre's critics, such as Greg Melluish (History Lecturer at the University of Wollongong), responded to the book by declaring that Macintyre was a partisan history warrior himself, and that "its primary arguments are derived from the pro-Communist polemics of the Cold War". Keith Windschuttle said that Macintyre attempted to "caricature the history debate". In a foreword to the book, former Chief Justice of Australia Sir Anthony Mason (judge), Anthony Mason said that the book was "a fascinating study of the recent endeavours to rewrite or reinterpret the history of European settlement in Australia".
National Museum of Australia controversyIn 2001, writing in ''Quadrant (magazine), Quadrant'', a Conservatism, conservative magazine, historian Keith Windschuttle argued that the then-new National Museum of Australia (NMA) was marred by "political correctness" and did not present a balanced view of the nation's history. In 2003 the Howard Government commissioned a review of the NMA. A potentially controversial issue was in assessing how well the NMA met the criterion that displays should: "Cover darker historical episodes, and with a gravity that opens the possibility of collective self-accounting. The role here is in helping the nation to examine fully its own past, and the dynamic of its history—with truthfulness, sobriety and balance. This extends into covering present-day controversial issues." While the report concluded that there was no systemic bias, it recommended that there be more recognition in the exhibits of European achievements. The report drew the ire of some historians in Australia, who claimed that it was a deliberate attempt on the part of the Government to politicise the museum and move it more towards a position which Geoffrey Blainey called the 'three cheers' view of History of Australia, Australian history, rather than the '#Black armband / white blindfold debate, black armband' view. In 2006 columnist Miranda Devine described some of the Braille messages encoded on the external structure of the NMA, including "sorry" and "forgive us our genocide" and how they had been covered over by aluminium discs in 2001, and stated that under the new Director "what he calls the 'black T-shirt' view of Culture of Australia, Australian culture" is being replaced by "systematically reworking the collections, with attention to 'scrupulous historical accuracy'". An example of the current approach at the NMA is the Bells Falls Gorge Interactive display, which presents Windschuttles's view of an alleged massacre alongside other views and contemporary documents and displays of weapons relating to Australian frontier wars#New South Wales, colonial conflict around Bathurst in 1824 and invites visitors to make up their own minds.
University of New South Wales controversyPublication in 2016 of "Indigenous Terminology" guidelines for the teaching and writing of history by the University of New South Wales created a brief media uproar. Amongst the advised language changes, they recommended "settlement" be replaced by "invasion", "colonisation" or "occupation". They also deemed that the generally accepted anthropological assumption that "Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for 40,000 years" should be dropped for "since the beginning of the Dreaming/s" as it "reflects the beliefs of many Indigenous Australians that they have always been in Australia, from the beginning of time" and because "many Indigenous Australians see this sort of measurement and quantifying as inappropriate". While some commentators considered the guidelines appropriate, others categorised them as political correctness that was an anathema to learning and scholarship.
Dark EmuDebate over the authenticity of the book Dark Emu, by Bruce Pascoe has been seen as a resumption of the history wars.Walter Marsh
See alsoAustralian topics * *Welcome to country *Marn Grook, subject of a debate often referred to as "Australian rules football, football's history wars" *Geographical renaming Similar topics in other countries *Black legend (Spain) *Historikerstreit (Germany) *New Historians (Israel)
References* * * * Evans, Raymond & Ørsted–Jensen, Robert:
Books* Attwood, Bain (2005). ''Telling The Truth About Aboriginal History'', Melbourne. * Attwood, Bain & Foster, S.G. (2003). ''Frontier Conflict: The Australian Experience'', Australian National Museum. 218 pages, * Connor, John (2002). ''The Australian Frontier Wars 1788–1838''. * Dawson, John (2004). ''Washout: On the academic response to The Fabrication of Aboriginal History''. Sydney. * Longo, Don. ''A Historian Against the Current: The Life and Work of Austin Gough'' ( Mile End, SA: Wakefield Press, 2021
Articles* Bonnell, Andrew G.; Crotty, Martin (2004). "Australian "Historikerstreit"? ''The Australian Journal of Politics and History.'' volume 50, issue 3. pp. 425+