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Writing the History of the Australian Frontier - Assignment Example

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This paper “Writing the History of the Australian Frontier” will compare the views of Keith Windschuttle and Henry Reynolds and place those views within the debate known as the “History Wars”. The paper will also briefly look at why this vigorous debate has become important in a much larger context…
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Writing the History of the Australian Frontier

In particular, Windschuttle objects to Reynolds figure of ’20,000’ Aboriginal dead, calling the figure (at best) “unwarranted” (Windschuttle 2000: 18). Windschuttle continues, attacking the apparently arbitrary nature of the ’20,000’, arguing that Reynolds and others have taken inductive reasoning to ‘unreasonable’ levels (18). Rather than 20,000 Aboriginal dead, he argues that the impossibility of the task, and the lack of credible sources, should convince historians to leave the subject well enough alone (23). In reply to Windschuttle’s claim that he fudged the figures Reynolds weak states that he ‘believes’ his figures are accurate – yet he really provides little solid evidence to support that claim. Instead, he assures us that if there were “2000 attacks on the settlers” the vastly superior European weapons combined with an “overwhelming determination to avenge any attack” there must have been tens of thousands of Aboriginals killed during the period (206). This is the very argument that upsets Windschuttle as it appears Reynold’s figures are nothing more than educated guesswork.
Nonetheless, Reynolds, in reply to Windschuttle’s accusations attacks both Windschuttle’s methodology and his bias. Windschuttle, he says, has a “nose for conspiracy and a penchant for overblown headlines”, he has “almost no experience in the field”, he is a zealot “crude, quixotic and clumsy”, indeed he less than subtly accuses Windschuttle of being akin to “Holocaust deniers who find new and more ingenious reasons to cast doubt on the death toll and who refuse to see what is obvious to everyone else” (204, 207).
Indeed, Reynolds and Windschuttle agree on very little. About the only thing that both Reynolds and Windschuttle do agree upon is that the other is an ideologue driven not by the search for truth but by some hidden agenda.  ... Read More
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