Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Liberal Party’s Shadow Minister for Education wants to sanitise Australian history

Have we forgotten how often, and easily history can be distorted by those seeking to make history simply a celebration, or quest for freedom?….

History isn’t a party, it’s an honest pursuit of an accurate telling of the past – the whole past, not just bits we like.

Pyne,-ChristopherDon’t dismiss nation’s blemishes , SMH  April 27, 2013  Julia Baird  Historians across Australia buried their faces in their palms again this week when, without warning, retro talk of ”history wars” was revived. It was like being drawn back into 2001, when John Howard was prime minister, George Bush was US president and Vanilla Ice was in jail.

On Monday, the jaunty opposition spokesman for education, Christopher Pyne (at left) criticised the new national school curriculum for putting Aboriginal and multicultural commemoration days in the same league as Anzac Day.

This seemed to come partly from a preference for the festive over the sombre.

Pyne said a Coalition government would review the curriculum because it should promote a more cheerful version of the past: ”The Coalition believes that, on balance, Australia’s history is a cause for celebration,” he said. ”We must not allow a confidence-sapping ‘black armband’ view of our history to take hold……

Isn’t Anzac more of a solemn commemoration than celebration? Isn’t cherry picking history for celebratory purposes distorting? And why must we insist on calling any truthful record of our ignoble history when it comes to white Australia’s treatment of Aboriginal history as ”black armband”?

It is our past, we must own it, we have apologised, and moving forward does not mean eradicating it. We can quibble over the details – the precise number of deaths of Aboriginals at the hands of settlers in Tasmania, for example – but the facts of the dispossession of land, stolen children and lack of basic rights are just that – facts.

The conflicts hyped as the ”history wars” that raged during the Howard era were not about history, but politics. These ”wars” were public and polemic mostly because they centered on race, racism and the reliability of the claims of violence in Aboriginal history. Common disputes about sourcing and evidence were inflated into ”battles” where conservatives flung mud at ”leftist” historians, accusing them of ideologically driven fraud, and historians alleged amateurism.

Commentators tried to shame historians; politicians tried to shame each other.

Ugly things were said.

In February 2008, Kevin Rudd apologised to Aboriginal people and argued we should ”leave behind the polarisation that began to infect every discussion of our nation’s past”. Since then, the ugliness has largely faded.

But we are now seeing strong signs the Coalition may reignite culture wars if it wins in September. According to this rhetoric, the Coalition represents basics, the Queen, calm, Britannia, cheer, Anzac, the constitution, freedom and the Bible.

In the Sir Paul Hasluck Foundation lecture given on September 27 last year, for example, John Howard – still the spiritual leader of federal Liberals – vehemently condemned the new school curriculum, due to be adopted after the federal election, as failing to examine our British heritage as well as ”the historic influence of the Judaeo Christian ethic in shaping Australian society”…..

Have we forgotten how often, and easily history can be distorted by those seeking to make history simply a celebration, or quest for freedom?….

History isn’t a party, it’s an honest pursuit of an accurate telling of the past – the whole past, not just bits we like.  http://www.smh.com.au/comment/dont-dismiss-nations-blemishes-20130426-2ijsd.html#ixzz2RhyIIocL

April 27, 2013 - Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL

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