A fool and a bigot. Herald's home to holocaust denier
I think I owe Garth George an apology:
...it might well be the aging reactionary Garth George who penned it - I can't really think of anyone else that out of touch...
Well meet the New Zealand Herald's John Roughan, ladies and gentlemen. He's actually more out of touch than old George - the man who writes from the perspective of being told as a child by his father that he would shoot him with his revolver should he hear the siren for a Japanese invasion. Now taking on the type of characteristics of your own dad who during your childhood threatened a Goebbel's-style family murder-suicide massacre would be enough to traumatise and deeply affect your way of thinking in later life - but what excuse has Mr Roughan got exactly. He must have been raised by a Grand Dragon High Cyclops of the White Knights of the Order of the Ku Klux Klan my friends because the shit he wrote in today's Herald will make your fucking hair stand on end. It doesn't deserve a dispassionate response.
John Roughan: Stolen generations story a distortion of history
Draw near to heareth our sermon, brother Klansmen. He starts badly enough:
When you see history being written you realise how much of it is mere legend.
Australia hasn't got a particularly exciting history. Once you've read past the convicts it becomes quiet and constitutional.
The closest they came to a civil convulsion was a goldfields rebellion by drunken Irish miners, much celebrated today at the "Eureka Stockade", that lasted all of a Sunday morning in 1853
They have nothing like the colonial wars in this country.
The displacement of Australia's ancient pre-colonial population was a largely private, casual and dimly recorded atrocity. It haunts the country's story rather than leaving a catalogue of battles that could be mythologised today.
For a man about to embark on a path of extreme historical revisionism he doesn't even have an historical grasp on his subject matter. He either thinks the NSW Rum Corps coup d'état was nothing, the convict rebellion of Castle Hill was nothing, the massacres of Aborigines were nothing etc. etc. At least Irving is an historian.
So they have invented a legend from living memory. By "they" I do not mean only Aboriginal revivalists. The "stolen generations" story, now carrying the official imprimatur of this week's Federal Government apology, is as much a creation of white authors, journalists, film-makers, scholars and even jurists freed from the need of forensic proof.
And setting up some arbitrary standard of "forensic proof" that (by implication) somehow excludes the people alive today who went through it? Irving excludes the stories of Jews, Roughan the Aboriginal stories.
Just about everybody now believes that as recently as the 1950s Aboriginal children were being dragged from the arms of clutching parents by cold-hearted agents of the state for purposes that could not be good.
Well it wasn't until the 1930s that Aborigines stopped being massacred wholesale. They couldn't vote in Queensland until the mid 1960s.
I would believe it too if I hadn't read a paper delivered by a Melbourne lawyer, Douglas Meagher, QC, to a seminar in 2000.
His suspicions of the stolen generation story had been aroused when reading the 1997 report of an inquiry by a fellow jurist, Sir Ronald Wilson.
Meagher, whose father was in the state government, was surprised by a reference to someone he had known quite well.
And the truth and the context flies right over Roughan's head. The lawyer is trying to vindicate his father. That seems rather obvious; but not to Roughan because he wants to believe. He allows himself to be duped by a personally involved man on a crusade to rehabilitate his father and what he stood for. Having such an overt conflict of interest in telling the historical narrative you would think he ought to be discounted, as an advocate for letting the Crown off the hook you would think he ought to be discounted... at the very least in the same way that Roughan so blithely discounts the stories of the living survivors of the policy in question.
At this point Roughan is at his weakest and most dismal, but then his history lesson dives into the truly risible:
These people had a typical 1950s education, lacking today's cultural sensitivity. That's bad enough if you believe constant cultural connections to be essential but it probably fails to outrage you. Hence the hype. Ever the lawyer, Meagher was reluctant to say the distortions were wilful. But they are, I suspect. They are a symptom of a late 20th century intellectual disease called post-modernism.
It fails to outrage Roughan. The Stolen Generations fails to outrage Mr Roughan, who then makes the mistake all bigots do: the arrogance to presume that everyone else of the same race shares his prejudice. The Federal Government and even the opposition leader (albeit disgracing himself) supported the motion to apologise for the policy and both of them quoted the people directly affected. Mr Roughan however thinks they are being "post modern". Not stopping at this point Mr Roughan then insists on performing intellectual hara-kiri:
Post-modernism holds that nothing can be known for certain, that anything is valid if enough people need to believe it.
Post-modernism does not do history, it does 'histories". Writers don't have to verify what they are told, they are saluted for enabling the downtrodden to tell their stories.
And that's precisely it, isn't it? Roughan doesn't do history. He has rendered a bizarre tale at odds with the evidence - a flimsy, unresearched, uncontextualised, hearsay, unverified "history" - in order to promote, validate and enable.. well, white pride. Whites being the downtrodden and maligned minority sector in his view.
When post-modern social propagandists use terms like "stolen" most people take them literally.
And when post-modern social propogandists use terms like "legend" and "mythologising" I hope most people have the ability to see the polemicist for what he is.
He is a fool and a bigot. The editor of the Herald let this man write a leader that puts that paper right back to the day it was founded in 1863 - as a vehicle to campaign for the invasion and destruction of Maori and the theft of their land for the white population. That is his writing's pedigree in relation to the New Zealand Herald.
Roughan is a man who knows nothing of history and cares even less for the facts. When he looks back on that piece I hope he has the sense to be ashamed of it and understand why many who read it are disgusted and offended by it - and think a lot less of him.