Sunday, June 03, 2007

They'll never listen

Revisionist (heh) Australian historian Keith Windschuttle on his colleagues' Ward Churchill-like fabrication of sources to invent white massacres of Aborigines in the 19th century, and the consequences of politically motivated historiography:

The argument that all history is politicised, that it is impossible for the historian to shed his political interests and prejudices, has become the most corrupting influence of all. It has turned the traditional role of the historian, to stand outside his contemporary society in order to seek the truth about the past, on its head. It has allowed historians to write from an overtly partisan position. It has led them to make things up and to justify this to themselves on the grounds that it is all for a good cause. No cause is ever served by falsehood because eventually someone will come along and expose you. Truth always comes out in the end, and when it does it discredits those causes that were built on lies. . . .

The role of the historian is to stand above politics, difficult though this always will be. Historians should assume a public responsibility to report their evidence fully and accurately, to footnote their sources honestly, and to adopt as objective a stand as possible. To pretend that acceptable interpretations can be drawn from false or non-existent evidence, whose only justification is that it is all in a good cause, is to abandon the pursuit of historical truth altogether.

Sounds almost naive, doesn't it? Read the whole thing, especially if you're not familiar with Windschuttle.

No comments: