The UnAustralian

Tuesday, September 02, 2003
Revisionists Can't Even Get Their Stories Straight

Keith Windschuttle has now given a reply to Robert Manne and co's Whitewash. I'm planning a proper analysis of his reply, but the following little snippet amused me:

I pointed out that anyone who does a count from the diary entries will come to a total of only 188, and many are dubious cases. Ryan's total is a complete fabrication. Manne's book ignores this easily disproved falsehood.

What's interesting here is that Windschuttle has quietly slipped H. A. Willis' revised Aboriginal deaths into his argument (essentially, Windschuttle has argued that the documentary evidence only showed 118 deaths [later revised to 120], only to find that Willis' found 188 - 333 Aboriginal deaths in the record). Quiet a sneaky little trick which has the benefits of ignoring that your search through the documentary record was massively incomplete. It would have also been nice for him to acknowledge Willis' work, rather than taking credit for it.

Meanwhile, Andrew Bolt, misses this entirely, as he rises to defend Windschuttle:

The strongest attack in Whitewash on Windschuttle's revised figure of just 120 Aborigines killed by whites is by James Boyce, who berates him for not having read unpublished diaries and letters of some colonists.

But what do Boyce's own researches reveal?

That Windschuttle overlooked records of just two probable black deaths, and 11 possibly fatal injuries, and that he failed to mention a 19-year-old Hobart woman who'd written of local gossip of a massacre of 12 more Aborigines in Tasmania's north -- gossip other historians have long dismissed as unreliable.

This is quite funny. Boyce never claimed that his search through private diaries and letters was comprehensive, rather he wrote about Windschuttle ignoring them, and listed some examples. Bolt has taken his examples, to be the sum total of all of the extra death's he could find.

Unfortunately, for Bolt, Windschuttle, appears to have quietly jettisoned his own numbers, just a few days latter.

Update: Unfortunately for Ken Miles, like Andrew Bolt, he needs to pay more attention. Windschuttle's 188 death's apparently apply to those listed in Robinson's diary, not Willis' list. D'oh. So I'll have to retract most of this post (the stuff aimed at Bolt still applies). I haven't been able to find anything on the internet on Windschuttle's view of Willis' work.
| 6:51 PM