Theodore Dalrymple, at the New English Review, has written an interesting piece on Why Intellectuals Like Genocide.
In 2002, the Australian free-lance historian and journalist, Keith Windschuttle, published a book that created a controversy that has still not died down. Entitled ‘The Fabrication of Aboriginal History,’ it sets out to destroy the idea that there had been a genocide of Tasmanian aborigines carried out by the early European settlers of the island.
For about the previous quarter century, it was more or less an historical orthodoxy that there had been such a genocide. Robert Hughes accepted the idea in his best-selling history of early Australia, The Fatal Shore. I accepted it myself, because when I first visited Australia in 1982 I read several books on the subject by professors of history at reputable universities, and rather naively supposed that their work must have been founded on painstaking and honest research, and that they had not misrepresented their original sources.
Windschuttle argued in his book that they had fabricated much of their evidence, and that, contrary to what they claimed, there had been no deliberate policy on the part of the colonial authorities or the local population either to extirpate or kill very large numbers of aborigines. He showed that the historians’ reading of the obscure source materials was either misleading or mendacious.
[...]What struck me at the time about the controversy was the evident fact that a large and influential part of the Australian academy and intelligentsia actually wanted there to have been a genocide. They reacted to Windschuttle’s book like a child who has had a toy snatched from its hand by its elder sibling. You would have thought that a man who discovered that his country had not been founded, as had previously been thought and taught, on genocide would be treated as a national hero. On the contrary, he was held up to execration.''
This odd reaction is certainly worth examining. Why on earth would these people cling to the idea of a genocide?
Here is another article on Windschuttle's book:
Historian Keith Windschuttle: Bringing Objectivity Back to the "Queen of the Humanities"
...The first volume of "The Fabrication of Aboriginal History" overturned the "orthodox case" that the noble savages who populated Australia's island state of Tasmania were wiped out by "a conscious policy of genocide". After analyzing the evidence that has been quoted for decades in support of the genocide theory, and adding his own research, Windschuttle estimated that during the most violent 30 year period of white settlement, an average of four Tasmanian Aborigines per year out of a population of two thousand were killed by white settlers. He then presented a convincing case that the aborigines' demise was due to their eagerness to sell their women to white settlers, and due to contamination from the settlers' diseases.
While making his case Windschuttle landed what even one of his targets had to admit were "solid blows" that exposed the shoddy research, selective reporting, distorted analysis, defective logic, baseless speculation, and pure fabrication which characterized the methods of the "orthodox school" of historians bent on propagating their ideological agenda.''
It is clear that there is an ideological agenda that drives this kind of 'scholarship.' And of course if you believe, as many of today's academics do, that truth is relative and subjective, then anything goes in scholarship. Many of today's historians are not seeking to discover facts and objective truth, but instead look for that which they find useful in advancing their anti-Western, self-hating agenda.
Dalrymple is almost apologetic about trying to divine the motives of the anti-Western intellectual class, because he sees any examination of motives as ad hominems. In a technical sense, he may be right, but when we see people who are theoretically pursuing truth and writing objective history so obviously distorting facts, we are compelled to try to understand why they are doing so. And in the case of people who are happily slandering their own forefathers in the name of their ideological agenda, we can only wonder how they became apparent self-haters and such harsh critics of their own culture.
It's interesting that here, The Adversary Culture, Windschuttle in examining the origins of some of the charges of 'genocide' finds that among those making such charges was the infamous Ward Churchill, plagiarist, self-hating American, 'Native American' impersonator, and fraud extraordinaire.
The moral rationale of cultural relativism is a plea for tolerance and respect of other cultures, no matter how uncomfortable we might be with their beliefs and practices. However, there is one culture conspicuous by its absence from all this. The plea for acceptance and open-mindedness does not extend to Western culture itself, whose history is regarded as little more than a crime against the rest of humanity. The West cannot judge other cultures but must condemn its own.
Academic historians today argue that all the new white settler societies established under the British Empire in Africa, the Pacific and North America shared the same racist attitudes towards outsiders and dispensed the same degree of violence against indigenous peoples. Today, they often compare the European settler societies with Nazi Germany.
This form of moral equivalence originated in the 1960s in the work of the American political theorist Pierre van den Berghe and his book Race and Racism. He defined all the British settler societies as ‘ herrenvolk democracies'. Herrenvolk is German for “master race”. These societies were egalitarian democracies, van den Berghe conceded, but only for people of their own kind. To preserve egalitarian ideals in the face of their exploitation of the land and labour of the coloured races, the settler democracies defined the latter as less than human. Van den Berghe wrote, these are “regimes such as those of the United States or South Africa that are democratic for the master race but tyrannical for the subordinate groups.”
The attitude to the indigenous people in the colonies, academic historians now assure us, was genocidal.
The charge of genocide is not only wrong, it is maliciously wrong — the defamation of a good man and a wilful misrepresentation of the truth.
What sort of ethical universe do the people who make this charge inhabit? As I noted, the assertion by the editors of Aboriginal History that the British settler societies were more intrinsically genocidal than Nazi Germany was based on an analysis of colonialism by Ward Churchill of the University of Colorado. Churchill is also treated as a citable authority by three separate authors in the recent anthology Genocide and Settler Society, edited by Dirk Moses of the University of Sydney, who describes Churchill as “a Native American activist and scholar.”
Their reverence for this person is revealing. In February last year, Churchill briefly became America 's most reviled university teacher for declaring that those who died in New York 's World Trade Centre on September 11 2001 had deserved their fate. Churchill wrote:
'If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it.'
In the ensuing controversy, Churchill was exposed by real American Indians as a fake. The American Indian Grand Governing Council said “Ward Churchill has fraudulently represented himself as an Indian, and a member of the American Indian Movement and … has been masquerading as an Indian for years behind his dark glasses and beaded headband.”
Ward Churchill is a study in himself. Who knows what motivates a man to adopt the identity of a group of people to whom he apparently has no genetic connection, and to condemn his own people in the harshest of terms, even denying his kinship to them? I've blogged before about him; I think he is one example of a type, the type which I encountered in college back in the 70s: the wannabee Indians, those who, for whatever reason, found their own identity lacking, and chose to dress up in beads and turquoise and braids and play Indian.
The late 1960s and early 70s were an era which was obsessed with the exotic and the primitive and the strange and 'colorful' and the perverse. The more exotic a culture, the greater the cachet. Many of my peers traipsed off to Katmandu or Marrakech or went to 'study' at ashrams in India, adopting Hindu names. Yes, I actually knew people like that. Many of these same people, who became sort of professional vagabonds and promiscuous multicultists, also became academics, teaching in universities as a way of clinging to their prolonged adolescent rebellion. Many of the academics Windschuttle went up against were, I suspect, people of my generation, aging hippies who despise their own boring, 'whitebread' origins and who enjoy play-acting as citizens of the world. And what better way to establish your world citizen credentials than to denounce and renounce America, and to vilify your own ancestors as genocidal? Doing so can only enhance your reputation as an enlightened and 'evolved' person, and solidifies your 'street cred.'
But this posturing by the academics is having a deleterious effect on our culture, and on our image of ourselves; the media propagate the academics' poisonous ideas to the populace, and now we have a nation which too often apologizes for its very existence.
Jean-François Revel said, "Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself."
Today, we live in an age of barbarism and decadence. There are barbarians outside the walls who want to destroy us and there is a decadent culture within. We are only getting what we deserve. The relentless critique of the West which has engaged our academic left and cultural elite since the 1960s has emboldened our adversaries and at the same time sapped our will to resist.
The consequences of this adversary culture are all around us. The way to oppose it, however, is less clear. The survival of the Western principles of free inquiry and free expression now depend entirely on whether we have the intelligence to understand their true value and the will to face down their enemies.''
Windschuttle makes the vital point that those who promote this 'adversary culture' are in effect weakening us and leaving us vulnerable to the predators who are circling our weakened nations.
Dalrymple suggests that the intellectuals who wish to believe in 'genocidal' Western culture want to delegitimize our culture and thus pave the way for their remaking of society along their desired lines.
And of course they, in doing this, are asserting their own authority and power in dismantling the society they find so flawed, and in designing a new and improved version.
But that still leaves unanswered the question of why they seem to need to condemn their own culture and to pull it down, and why they are willing to accuse their own ancestors of such atrocities. This is surely an unnatural situation, although Dalrymple does not say as much.
We are in the realm of guesswork and speculation, but it seems as though in the vacuum of values, in a society which has lost all confidence in itself and its history, recent generations have sought out colorful counterfeit identities in the place of the genuine heritage which has been so denigrated and discredited. There are too few voices to compete with those of the self-hating, nihilistic postmodernists, and lacking any alternative, the younger generations are easily led by the Noam Chomskys and the Ward Churchills and their bargain-basement counterparts like Michael Moore or the celebrities who dabble in leftism.
And there is a certain attraction, in a society which no longer holds to the old Christian values and verities, towards a kind of cheap moral superiority in adopting a self-denigrating pose, and exalting the 'other'. And the more alien and hostile the 'other', the more virtue there is in championing that 'other.' Thus we have many younger people who idealize Moslems, and who don kaffiyehs in order to show 'solidarity' with Moslems, or we have those who idolize criminals like Mumia, who is seen as a martyr to a 'racist' system.
So those young people who have been nurtured on stories of their genocidal ancestors are easy prey. Either they consciously side with the enemies of this country, or they are so alienated and nihilistic that they see no reason for their country and culture to continue to exist.
I realize there are younger people who have managed to escape this conditioning; there are those who, because of good parental influence, sound Christian principles, or simply an independent spirit, are exceptions. I know examples of such young people. However, even the best of them are often prey to some of the ubiquitous leftist ideas, and many of them need an infusion of cultural confidence and self-knowledge in order to stay strong and not succumb to the spirit of the age. There is a need to break the domination of the leftists in academia and the media. The future of this country will depend on our determination to preserve our culture and our heritage. The propagators of lies, and the false accusers of 'genocide' must not be allowed to ply their trade unchallenged any longer.