Bennelong Papers

It’s Hard Not to Say ‘We Told You So’

Finally, the spurious claims of fauxborigine Bruce Pascoe are coming under serious scrutiny from a source more credible than those hotbeds of alleged racism, Quadrant and the Dark Emu Exposed website.

Saturday’s SMH had an article by Stuart Rintoul ‘Has Dark Emu been debunked?’ that examines a new book, Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate, by two academics, anthropologist Peter Sutton and archaeologist, Keryn Walshe. More power to them, I say.

But I must also say I take issue with the subtitle of their book. ‘The Dark Emu Debate’?  Really?  What debate, I ask?  Andrew Bolt, Quadrant and Dark Emu Exposed have been trying to engender some sort of debate for a number of years.  Our efforts have been met with nothing from academia or mainstream media but a stony silence.  Indeed, where the very existence of our work has been grudgingly acknowledged, we have been dismissed as hateful, right-wing racists, which therefore automatically discredits us.  Or, rather, in their mind at least, allows the righteous Left a fig-leaf to refuse to engage with our arguments.

Rintoul, a man of the Left known for his writings about Aboriginal people, pretty much takes that line, admittedly omitting the invective:

Pascoe, who, like Sutton, also grew up in a working-class family (becoming a teacher and then a writer of literary fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essays and children’s literature before finding unexpected fame), has been targeted by conservative commentators and media who have questioned both his version of history and his Aboriginality.

The conservative magazine Quadrant, whose editor Keith Windschuttle has accused historians of fabricating the extent of colonial violence, called him a “fauxborigine”. A vitriolic website, “Dark Emu Exposed”, was created by “a collective of Quiet Australians from many walks of life who question, and want to hold to account, authors who appear to be rewriting our Australian history to progress their own particular political narrative”.

The Sutton/Walshe book is not the first criticism of Dark Emu. Australian National University anthropologist Ian Keen has said that Pascoe’s evidence for Aboriginal farming is “deeply problematic”, although he also believes that some of the criticism has been used to support a racist agenda. Christophe Darmangeat, a lecturer in social anthropology at the Sorbonne in France, wrote that in Dark Emu Pascoe mixes “perfectly proven elements, others possible but more doubtful, others very improbable, and finally frank fabrications, firing on all cylinders by handling concepts and facts with a disarming casualness”. Quadrant published a polemical book, Bitter Harvest, against Pascoe’s claims. But Sutton and Walshe’s Farmers or Hunter-Gatherers? is the most forensic and best credentialled examination and repudiation of Dark Emu.

The Sutton/Walshe book may not be the first criticism of Dark Emu, as Rintoul notes.  But then neither was the Ian Keen paper the first.  Adding weight to Andrew Bolt’s initial scepticism of Dark Emu, the Dark Emu Exposed website was first on the scene, followed in late 2019 by Bitter Harvest (written by Peter O’Brien, Stuart, by the way) which I would also regard as forensic, although I do concede I am not as academically qualified as Sutton and Walshe.  But it doesn’t take an anthropologist, an archaeologist or even a historian to identify the manifest fabrications and distortions in Dark Emu.  It just takes an auditor.  And that is effectively what Bitter Harvest is – an audit, at least as far as the central premise is concerned.  But back to the SMH article:

…  Hunter-Gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate ….  published next week by Melbourne University Press, is damning. In page after page, Sutton and Walshe accuse Pascoe of a “lack of true scholarship”, ignoring Aboriginal voices, dragging respect for traditional Aboriginal culture back into the Eurocentric world of the colonial era, and “trimming” colonial observations to fit his argument. They write that while Dark Emu “purports to be factual” it is “littered with unsourced material, is poorly researched, distorts and exaggerates many points, selectively emphasises evidence to suit those opinions, and ignores large bodies of information that do not support the author’s opinions”.

“It is actually not, properly considered, a work of scholarship,” they write. “Its success as a narrative has been achieved in spite of its failure as an account of fact.”

Pretty much what Andrew Bolt, the folks at Dark Emu Exposed and I have been saying ad nauseam for two years. Rintoul provides a half-dozen or so examples of Pascoe’s perfidy. They include:

Where Pascoe quotes explorer Thomas Mitchell discovering grass that had been pulled and piled into “hay-ricks” that stretched for miles, for example, Pascoe suggests that Aboriginal people were practising an idyllic agriculture. But he leaves out Mitchell’s puzzlement about the purpose of these “ricks” and Mitchell’s later writing that all attempts to persuade Aboriginal people to till the ground had failed.

Pascoe records Mitchell’s astonishment on coming upon a large, deserted village during his Australia Felix expedition, which he estimated housed “over 1000” people. This, says Sutton, is “pure fiction”. “All Mitchell says is that his party ‘noticed some of their huts’; there is no mention of anyone counting anything.” Pascoe then quotes a member of Mitchell’s party, Granville Stapylton, as saying that the buildings “were of very large dimensions, one capable of containing at least 40 persons and of very superior construction”. But he omits Stapylton’s speculation that this was “the work of a white man”, probably the runaway convict William Buckley, who lived with the Wathaurong people for three decades.

Elsewhere, Pascoe cites Charles Sturt’s discovery of a large well and village somewhere north of Lake Torrens in South Australia, but neglects to say that Sturt saw no signs of recent occupation. When Sturt finds grass set out to dry and ripen, Pascoe guesses this was because of surplus grain, which suggested “sedentary agriculture”. Sutton ridicules the idea. “The suggestion, if that is what Pascoe intends, that anyone could practise ‘sedentary agriculture’ in that blasted desert environment is simply ill-informed,” he writes.

Similarly, when Pascoe quotes Alice Duncan-Kemp’s memory of women on the Diamantina River in the early 20th century sprinkling seed over the ground from woven dilly-bags, he fails to mention that Duncan-Kemp wrote that this was done “as they danced and sang the rain song” as part of a rain increase ceremony.

In Dark Emu, and the children’s version of the book, Young Dark Emu, and a teaching resource, Dark Emu in the Classroom, a photograph shows a large “pointed dome house”, inferred to be Aboriginal. It is not. It is from the Melanesian region of the eastern Torres Strait.

Every one of the above fabrications/misrepresentations is covered in Bitter Harvest.  As are, I have no doubt, a multitude more that we will find adorning the pages of Hunter-Gatherers? Why are they now, all of a sudden, considered significant enough to merit inclusion in the wonderfully woke SMH?  We all know the answer to that. It’s the provenance, dear boy.

Let me recap one of the points Sutton makes above, viz:

When Sturt finds grass set out to dry and ripen, Pascoe guesses this was because of surplus grain, which suggested “sedentary agriculture”. Sutton ridicules the idea. “The suggestion, if that is what Pascoe intends, that anyone could practise ‘sedentary agriculture’ in that blasted desert environment is simply ill-informed,” he writes.

To begin with, you can bank on the fact that the ‘suggestion of sedentary agriculture’ is exactly ‘what Pascoe intends’.  There is no ‘if’ about it. His whole book is replete with such deceptions, some more overt than others.  It is not Pascoe who is ‘ill-informed’ — such a description does him way too much credit.  It is his multitude of readers, many of them school children, who are ill-informed, or rather misinformed.

Ironic, is it not, that this expose comes courtesy of the University of Melbourne, which recently appointed Pascoe as some kind of Professor of Indigenous Agriculture  – an oxymoron if ever there was one.  Rintoul is not unaware of the irony.  He writes:

Sutton and Walshe’s book comes, uncomfortably, from the publishing house of the university that last year appointed Pascoe as Enterprise Professor in Indigenous Agriculture.

At his home at Gipsy Point, Victoria, Pascoe waits for the storm to break. He seems sanguine. In a written response to extracts shown to him, he tells Good Weekend, “Dark Emu has encouraged many Australians to recognise the ingenuity and sophistication of the many Aboriginal cultures, societies and land-management practices, which had not previously been brought to mainstream attention. The extent of Aboriginal social and economic organisation has been surprising to many Australians and a nuanced debate needs to be ongoing.”

He says it would be “disappointing” if Australia’s understanding of Aboriginal history and culture “digressed to a limiting debate about semantics and nomenclature”.

“Hunter-gatherer and farmer are both settler/colonial labels, and the long prevailing negative interpretation of hunter-gatherer has been used as a weapon against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (as a justification for terra nullius),” he writes.

“Language can be used to help people to see the world differently, to open minds to new ways of seeing. This is what I tried to achieve with Dark Emu.”

As to Pascoe waiting for the storm to break, I don’t think he’d be too concerned.  The non-response he gave to Rintoul is all of a piece with the non-response he gave to Kerry O’Brien in a softball interview last year. He’s been getting away with it so long, he knows that those cheerleaders who have supported him so vociferously are not going to want to end up with a scrub-turkey (domesticated of course) egg omelette all over their faces.

This morning, even in the face of the damming Sutton/Walshe book, Pascoe is maintaining the defence that this is an academic dispute:

“I think what is happening, and I’m saying this without having read the [whole] book or the [Good Weekend] article, is that we’re having a difference of opinion about history,” he said.

“We’re looking at the same facts and we’re having a difference of opinion about the facts. That’s not a bad thing. I think Aboriginal people have been wanting to have this discussion for 250 years, so I think it can only be positive.”

That defence might have washed while academics, politicians and journalists were studiously ignoring the evidence before them, on the grounds that it came from ‘unqualified’ and ‘discredited’ sources.  Whether it will hold now, well we shall just have to see.  

Pascoe continued:

“I’m in touch with a lot of archaeologists and anthropologists in Australia and overseas and they keep sending me corroborating material.”

Mr Pascoe would not disclose the names of those experts as he did not want them to be targeted.

“I don’t want people being rung up and drilled about their current research,” he said. “That’s how the last war was conducted. I’m not going to go to war. I want us to have an intellectual discussion.”

Ah, the same defence as to his aboriginality.  All these Aboriginal relatives and academic supporters, cowering in fear at the prospect of being named by Quadrant!

Which brings me to my main point. Pascoe is not some misguided amateur scholar, whose heart is in the right place and who can be forgiven, maybe, for a few transgressions or misinterpretations in the use of his sources.  He is a serious and serial charlatan who has defrauded a generation.  He is a propagandist whose narrative suits the extreme Aboriginal sovereignty agenda (‘always was, always will be Aboriginal land’).

You may think I am drawing rather a long bow in conflating a treatise on Aboriginal agriculture with the push for Aboriginal sovereignty. Well, don’t take my word for it. I am not the only one who makes this connection. Aboriginal activist Amy McQuire, writing in New Matilda, says:

While it is great that Australia is so ready to engage with the reality that Aboriginal people had a complicated land management system, I feel that their acceptance of this truth at the expense of the dark history of the frontier wars shows they do not fundamentally understand the vital importance of Pascoe’s work – and the far-reaching implications of it.

As Professor of Law Megan Davis explains in the book It’s Our Country: Indigenous Arguments for Meaningful Constitutional Recognition and Reform, the way the British claimed territory and asserted sovereignty is ‘central’ to where we go next in resolving the unfinished business.

Prof Davis explains: ‘It mattered whether claiming a territory was done by settlement or whether by conquest and cession, because each had differing implications for the reception or not of British law.

‘Settlement occurs when the land is desert and uncultivated and it is inhabited by backward people.

‘Conquest means that it is a forcible invasion of occupied land and cession means that there is a treaty over occupied land. In the case of conquest, the laws of people conquered apply until the Crown or other foreign power laws apply, and in regard to cession, a treaty is entered into but the Crown or foreign power abrogates it.’

She writes ‘When lands are cultivated, then they are gained through conquest or they are ceded by a treaty’. And when lands are conquered or ceded, it still has laws of its own.

‘Until the Crown asserts sovereignty and actually changes them “the ancient laws of the country remain”.’

This was not fully resolved in the Mabo decision, Prof Davis writes, which resulted in an ‘uneasy combination of unsettled/ settled’. But she writes it’s not the ‘fundamental issue’ – ‘Sovereignty was not passed from the Aboriginal people through any significant legal act. The British did not ask per-mission to settle. Aboriginal people did not consent and no-one ceded. This is the source of disquiet. This is the grievance that must be addressed. The further we are from 1788 the less inclined the state will be to address this.’

But Aboriginal agriculture and land management has been accepted by white Australia, even though it directly addresses the myths about Australia being ‘uncultivated’ land.

The lack of controversy makes me think that Australia is slow to realise this. And it makes me wonder whether the enthusiasm that greets information about Aboriginal agriculture and land management is based on intellectual curiosity, and not a willingness to deliver true justice.

Recognising Aboriginal agriculture and land management not only means recognising the humanity and intelligence of Aboriginal peoples, but that this land was taken by conquest, and sovereignty has never been ceded.

Will Pascoe’s book be withdrawn from bookstores, his honours and awards be rescinded? They should be, as it was nothing less than the commission of a monumental fraud that made him a wealthy and famous man. Call me a cynic if you will, but I suspect not. I suspect his usefulness in the role of propagandist will trump even two highly credentialled academics, whose book will be allowed to quietly fade away unless politicians, such as our various ministers for education, sit up and take notice of what we have been telling them for years.

Order the new edition of Peter O’Brien’s Bitter Harvest by clicking here 

32 comments
  • Alistair

    I suspect that this “narrative” will be just as hard to kill as the “Safe Schools” project. Utterly discredited everywhere except academia.

  • Elizabeth Beare

    No, It’s not hard. Say it loud and clear: “We told you so”.

    Tell everyone you can. 🙂

  • Tony Tea

    I wrote several comments below The Age’s article in which I criticised pro-Pascoe comments, but none of them were published.
    And now today Pascoe is trying to take the high ground by mouthing platitudes about debate being healthy. I’ll give him this much – he’s got more front than Myers.

  • Tony Tea

    Oh, and if you feel like a laugh, hop on Twitter and search for “dark emu” or “bruce pascoe”. You’ll laugh until you stop.

  • Stephen Due

    A society in which the dominant religion is ‘science’ – the same belief system that is saving everyone from the deadly virus – is going to be in dire straits when it can no longer differentiate between fact and fiction. Science in a world where ‘fact’ is disconnected from reality will not be a happy place, as the pandemic lockdowns have amply demonstrated.
    With the postmodern generation we have reached a point where facts are whatever you need them to be. Whatever makes you feel bad is either a lie, hate speech, or something that needs to be eradicated. Conversely anything that makes you feel good must be true and its continued existence supported. For example, ABC radio informed its audience yesterday that koala habitats must be protected simply because koalas are adorable. This is a typical line of reasoning in today’s media-driven societies.
    Daniel Andrews trades on this worldview no less than Bruce Pascoe. Both are selling a narrative that is mainly emotion-driven, with a fairly random selection of supporting ‘evidence’. They are using manipulative psychological strategies designed primarily to enhance their personal marketability. It seems the postmodern public are no more difficult to mislead and defraud than any previous generation, in spite of claiming to be so much more ‘advanced’.

  • Patrick McCauley

    History may not repeat itself if properly studied … but if not – it certainly rhymes. Is this another method of cultural ‘Erasure’ ? ( or is it a form of cultural appropriation ?)

  • March

    Kudos to Peter and the Dark Emu exposed group for leading this battle for the truth!

  • Blair

    “Hunter-gatherer and farmer are both settler/colonial labels, and the long prevailing negative interpretation of hunter-gatherer has been used as a weapon against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (as a justification for terra nullius),”
    Torres Strait Islanders lived in permanent villages, harvested the oceans (fish, dugong, turtle, crabs, crayfish, stingray, grew crops eg yams, cassava, taro, collected fruits eg wongai plums, coconuts and raised pigs.
    They also constructed boats.
    “Torres Strait Islander people, another Indigenous Australian group of peoples (who are not Aboriginal), used a different type of boat – a double outrigger, unique to their area and probably introduced from Papuan communities and later modified. It was about 14 metres (46 ft) long, with two bamboo masts and sails made of pandanus-mat. They could sail as far as 80 kilometres (50 mi) and carry up to twelve people” (Wikipedia)

  • Harry Lee

    Want to stop the destructive influence of fantasies/lies about pre-1788 Aboriginal social and economic conditions? Good. But please note that actual facts and logic, while necessary ingredients of such a campaign, are not sufficient. This is a political fight -not a debate based on rules of empirical engagement with actual reality.
    For focus: Remember that the ALP’s “Sorry” was a diversion from and cover-up of the truth of the Aboriginal violence against children -violence in addition to utter neglect and endemic abuse. This diversion/cover-up is instrumental in the Left’s spreading lies about “The Stolen Generation” and engendering (fake, false) Aboriginal victimhood. This is a marxist ploy in the Left’s war to destroy the legitimacy and value of our British founding and institutions. This is war, not a (fake) scholarly debate.

  • David

    Leaving aside all the really annoying stuff, it is something to cheer that we now have people in academia prepared to expose Pascoe’s fabrications as well as run the gauntlet of the aboriginal industry and also good for Hollier and MUP to publish Sutton and Walshe’s book.

  • March

    I got this from ABC complaints a little over a year ago after raising serious concerns about the factual accuracy of Pascoe’s book based on Peter’s Book Bitter Harvest. I have now asked them for a review!

    Thank you for your complaint regarding the ABC Education resource Bruce Pascoe: Aboriginal agriculture, technology and ingenuity. I apologise for the delay in responding.

    Your concerns have been considered by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent of program making areas within the ABC. Our role is to review and, where appropriate, investigate complaints alleging that ABC content has breached the ABC’s editorial standards: https://edpols.abc.net.au/policies/

    In essence, your complaint asks Audience and Consumer Affairs to make a determination on the accuracy of Dark Emu, in response to criticism of it and Bruce Pascoe by Peter O’Brien and others, including the Dark Emu Exposed website. While noting your concerns, Audience and Consumer Affairs have concluded that the substantial investigation you seek is not warranted and nor is it a proportionate use of the ABC’s complaint handling resources for the following reasons:

    This ABC Education resource has been available online since May 2019; as you would be aware, Audience and Consumer Affairs do not generally accept complaints for investigation which are received more than six weeks after broadcast or publication of the content in question. You have not provided any reasons for the delay in submitting your complaint. Nonetheless, we accept that since this resource was published, there has been some criticism of Dark Emu, and in light of this and in good faith we have broadly considered the matters you raise.

    This resource is based on the acclaimed, award-winning book Dark Emu by author Bruce Pascoe. Since its initial publication in 2014, the book has been generally well-received, as evidenced by the number of awards it won or was shortlisted for, as well as numerous positive reviews in the media and in academic journals. It was selected as the inaugural book for the Parliamentary Book Club and has been praised by politicians and other public figures. We are advised by ABC Education that Bruce Pascoe: Aboriginal agriculture, technology and ingenuity was produced for a number of reasons: the unit received a number of requests for a resource to be developed based on the book; the children’s version Young Dark Emu is being used in some classrooms; and more broadly there is a high demand from their audience for Indigenous history resources. Given these facts, Audience and Consumer Affairs are satisfied that Dark Emu is a credible and appropriate subject for an ABC Education resource.

    Audience and Consumer Affairs is aware that since 2019, Dark Emu has been the subject of some sustained criticism from a range of mostly non-expert sources, much of it relating to the accuracy of Dark Emu and Bruce Pascoe’s interpretation of sources. Given this somewhat persistent criticism, we have viewed the fact checking documentation undertaken by ABC Education for this resource, which demonstrates that reasonable efforts were made to ensure accuracy. We have also considered the context in which this resource is presented. Following receipt of your complaint, we note that ABC Education have updated the prologue to Bruce Pascoe: Aboriginal agriculture, technology and ingenuity to appropriately include this information: Note also that since 2019, Pascoe’s work has been evaluated differently by some people, who don’t agree with his interpretations of historical sources. This resource contains excerpts from the original texts and scientific evidence that Bruce draws on. We encourage you to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of all historical sources. The presentation of this module, as the name suggests, prominently features Bruce Pascoe and it is clear that he is presenting an alternative viewpoint, underpinned by research, which challenges the belief that Indigenous Australians were hunter-gatherers. The ABC’s Editorial Policies allow for this point-of-view style of presentation.

    While we have declined to further investigate your complaint, please be assured that your concerns are noted and have been made available to ABC Education. Thank you again for writing to us.

    Yours sincerely
    Denise Musto
    Investigations Manager
    Audience and Consumer Affairs

  • Alistair

    Yes David, I agree. There certainly appears to be an awful load of “really annoying stuff”.
    My problem with Sutton is that, if The Politics of Suffering is to be believed, and why not?, he was one of the great advancers of self-determination, the land rights and the Homelands fiascoes. In short, he was there at the very beginning of the whole undermining of the missionary system and the setting up if the current dystopia that Aborigines now “suffer”. It appears to me to be only natural then that he, and his fellow travelers, find it so necessary to denigrate earlier workers by casual snide asides. They desperately need to generate early “genocides” and “slavery” and “stolen generations” in order to try and misdirect attention from their own current failings. The fact is that all the “facts” about Aboriginal hunting and gathering that Sutton mentions in his piece were all mentioned by earlier workers from day one of settlement. These observations were no less reliable that his own, even if they were not all full professors. One thing that particularly irks me is the use of the casual put-down – “Eurocentric” – as some sort of unanswerable criticism. The fact is that the early settlers, explorers, and bureaucrats had a range of views which spanned every thing from the Roussauian Noble Savage myth to the Hobbesian “life is brutal mean and short” There simply was no single “Eurocentric” view. Also, most of the early bureaucracy was populated by “Imperialists” not Eurocentrists. Many had had exposure to Indigenous colonies in Africa America Canada and the West Indies before taking up posts in Australia. These people were very knowledgeable about other cultures and had a record of being sympathetic to them. Those that didnt (Governor Gawler in SA for example) were quickly moved out. Its time these snobbish professors stopped pretending that they are the font of all wisdom and that only their peer-reviewed mates are worth talking to and started listening to other people in the field who are just as well informed as themselves.

  • Tony Tea

    Pascoe is now in so deep he can’t pull out.
    There were lots of insane comments at The Age and on Twitter to the effect that Pascoe was a big hearted soul for generously conceding the criticisms of Sutton and Walshe made for healthy debate. One of my unpublished comments at The Age said there was bugger all else he could say because he knows he’s bang to rights and cannot engage with Sutton and Walshe as an equal as they are both properly qualified and experienced academics in the field, whereas he is an unqualified, unworthy and unacademic hack. Can’t think why The Age would flush that truth.

  • gary@erko

    It will end up similar to Gore’s hockey stick movie – “WE found a few questionable contentions but they don’t really alter the general conclusion”. The court case between Mark Steyn and Michael Mann is another example. It’s the vibe, man, that’s what matters. The kids have been taught critical thinking – that’s the name they now call indoctrination. Critical thinking is how to argue towards a prior decided outcome.

  • Harry Lee

    Ask why fantasy, BS and lies are accepted as truth within the universities, in the school systems, and in the news/opinion media. Then ask: Can anything be done? Answer: Seems not.
    So then ask: What can be done about our legal and political systems, and the Constitution on which they stand, none of which provides for the protection of Australia against the marxist-greenist, anti-Westernist forces which portray fantasy, BS, and lies as Virtuous Truth, and which dominate all of our institutions?

  • Lonsdale

    Bravo, Alistair. And Peter. And Les. And Harry. And Tony. And Elizabeth. And Keith. And all of you.

  • J. Vernau

    Mr Rintoul’s article was also published in Saturday’s ‘Age’. I thought it somewhat discourteous of him not to even mention Bitter Harvest’s author.
    I haven’t read Dark Emu but I watched the ABC Education short videos, which are absurd. I also saw Mr Pascoe on Q&A, sternly making and repeating the assertion that progress is not material but moral. How this relates to his book was not explained. He seemed to me to be sincere. And unhinged.

  • Karnjirrwala

    Disappointed about the alleged “debate” in Sutton and walshes title. It is a fraud rather than a debate. Pascoe’s reply is utterly disingenuous. He has not advanced knowledge. He has trivialised and demeaned Australian hunter gathering way of life. What was so great about primitive farming? Lifespans plunged, people were vastly immiserated until very recently with antibiotics and democracy and relative peace.

  • NFriar

    Thank you Peter and Dark Emu Exposed for keeping this all in the headlights so to speak.
    I agree with the first comment – I am a retired chalkie and despair:
    ***Alistair – 13th June 2021
    I suspect that this “narrative” will be just as hard to kill as the “Safe Schools” project. Utterly discredited everywhere except academia.

  • NFriar

    I do have doubts about Sutton’s work:
    1. I was excited to discover from Christophe Dargameat that Sutton was writing a book about Dark Emu – but equally concerned why Melbourne Uni were the Publishers……..thanks to Peter’s paper above and Pascoe’s response yesterday ‘opening up discussion.’
    I think that I ‘get it.’

    2. ‘Eucrocentrics’ – I note Alistair’s post:
    …..One thing that particularly irks me is the use of the casual put-down – “Eurocentric” – as some sort of unanswerable criticism. The fact is that the early settlers, explorers, and bureaucrats had a range of views which spanned every thing from the Roussauian Noble Savage myth to the Hobbesian “life is brutal mean and short” There simply was no single “Eurocentric” view.

    3. Nothing will happen to the books – they will not be removed from schools and Unies; [Ack of Country replaced the National Anthem in schools 8 years ago.]
    The aboriginal political elite have used the books and Pascoe as their Trojan Horse.

  • pgang

    gary@erko – 13th June 2021, I think you are spot on. I would add, however, that like all soldiers of the revolution Pascoe will be outed. Inevitably his fellow socialists will turn on him for getting above himself, and then he will discover the true praxis of his ideology. Perhaps this is the beginning of his downfall.

  • Stephen Due

    Surely the cultural malaise that allows fakery like Dark Emu to flourish goes much deeper than people imagine? While it is vital to refute falsehoods and expose bad arguments, much more is needed. We do not live in the ideal world of the classical Academy. We are not going to heal a deep-seated cultural malaise with no stronger medicine than Socratic debate.
    The problem of our corrupt education system needs to be addressed. The biological family must be restored as the gold standard. The entire social fabric of our society is rotting and disintegrating – in my view because we have abandoned Christianity.
    How can conservatives work effectively to defeat the dark forces that lie behind the success of Dark Emu? From the biblical perspective, the battle is seen correctly as a spiritual conflict. It would be nice to think that those conservatives who embrace the Enlightenment worldview might yet win through. However, I believe history has already shown that the Enlightenment ethos, while undermining Christian culture, has proven itself unequal to the greater task of spiritual warfare. I’m praying for Christian revival – for people to read the Bible, heed its message, and so arm themselves for the fight.

  • Alistair

    I have been asked to make a couple of clarifications about my earlier comment. I would like to point out two things. First I suggested that Professor Sutton attempts to deflect criticism of his own role in the catastrophe of modern politics by highlighting previous failures. This may be a bit harsh but … he does seem keen to seek to minimise his own role in that “fiasco” by claiming his involvement as well-intentioned, well-meaning, honest mistakes. My objection is that these people do not extend the same courtesy to the early workers in the Aboriginal field but simply represent them as bigots and racists who implemented policies which deliberately adversely affected Aborigines. This is mean and dishonest.
    Secondly – to clarify Governor Gawler. Governor of South Australia when in 1840 28 survivors of the wreck of the Maria were slaughtered (and cannibalised) by Aborigines in the SE of the State. A police party rounded up the suspects and summarily executed two of them. In Adelaide, surprising to many I imagine, the public sympathy was not with the 28 white victims slaughtered by the Aborigines, but with the two Aborigines who were executed without a properly constituted trial. Governor Gawler was recalled in disgrace and the Chief of Police narrowly escaped trial for murder. Not quite the bigots and racists as the left would like us to believe.

  • Rebekah Meredith

    Stephen Due–Thank you.

  • Harry Lee

    The situation we are in:
    1. Is not a debate between two sides with different views of history and why some sub-groups of the populace are so miserable.
    2. Is a state of war in which the enemy is not only within our gates, it controls all the key power points of our city.
    3. This enemy comprises naive idealists; rebels without causes; persons of violence carefully disguised; people who want to feel good/virtuous at others’ expense; people who want the “government” to eliminate all causes of human suffering at no effort to the sufferer; people, home-grown and imported, who conduct their lives by extracting money, by various government-enabled schemes, from nett wealth-producers and sending this money to foreign power-people and/or transnational anti-Westernist terror groups of various kinds; power-crazed nut-cases of zero technical competence and zero appreciation of the complexities of social organisation; people who just like being on TV or in any spotlight really; and various kinds of parasites-
    -all of whom are puppeteered by very savvy, marxist Big Statist anti-Westernists who reside both in political office, in the education systems, in the mainstream media, in the public services, and in the shadows, and who really want to control the details of the daily lives of the ordinary people while they themselves enjoy luxuries and freedoms denied to the plain folk.
    4. Only a very, very few non-marxist/non-Big Statists comprehend the nature of this war, and what is required to win it, or can be bothered to do anything it.
    That’s our situtation.

  • MungoMann

    Bruce von Daniken being questioned about his latest book, The Pyramid Scheme,

    “I think what is happening, and I’m saying this without having read anything on Egyptology, is that we’re having a difference of opinion about history,” he said.
    “We’re looking at the same facts and we’re having a difference of opinion about the facts. That’s not a bad thing. I just happen to think that aliens arrived in a space ship and built the Pyramids – others at Quadrant might disagree”.

    Does this guy have no shame?

  • Peter OBrien

    MungoMann,
    he does not

  • L Louis

    Peter O’Brien can justifiably feel vindicated by the Sutton/ Walshe demolition of Dark Emu. After his long hard slog, it might seem unfair to insist that the campaign to get a change of deeply rooted opinion and acceptance that it is a fabrication that has to be removed from schools and University Indigenous Studies courses will require further efforts by Peter. The recent article by Dr Ian Keen (discussed in previous issues of Quadrant) has made no discernable impact.
    The talented performer Pascoe is totally impervious to criticism, and has responded with typical insouciance, “We’re looking at the same facts and we’re having a difference of opinion about the facts.”
    And my optimism is tempered by fears that with so many high profile reputations at stake, every stratagem will be employed to sideline Sutton as offering just another opinion. With scholarship now devastated in universities, truth is relative. Indeed there is one branch of this thinking that only indigenous scholars are qualified to write on indigenous issues.
    There has been, however, one promising breakthrough. The Conversation which has been ruthless in its censorship of any criticism of Dark Emu on 14 June published a positive review of Sutton /Walshe and allowed over 250 comments on the first day. With very few exceptions they welcomed the attack on Dark Emu, and there were many favourable references to Bitter Harvest.
    But there is a long way to go. For example, in my tussles with the editor, Misha Ketchell, he was supported by the Chair of The Conversation, Professor Schultz, who is also editor of The Griffith Review which is a Pascoe supporter. The promoters of Pascoe and his deceits have to be brought to account for the damage they have inflicted. Among the extensive list is Ms Flamsteed, The National Executive Officer of The Children’s Book Council of Australia who ignored my plea,” Young Dark Emu does not qualify, [for the Eve Pownall Award] as it is a travesty of pre-history. Its basic arguments are not supported by archaeologists and pre-historians- typically, Professor Peter Hiscock, chair of archaeology at Sydney University, regards his claims as “ridiculous”. Will integrity prevail, and the fraud be stripped

  • john.singer

    Don’t just focus on an individual.
    So a couple of academics are now saying the things Peter O’Brien and various Faceboook pages have been saying for about a year about “Dark Emu” and its Author.
    So Bruce Pascoe has done a PT Barnum. You could say Barnum humbugged a phoney museum into a three ring circus and Pascoe has humbugged a book into an academic title and possibly Government awards and grants.
    What should concern us more, are the people who knew or should have suspected the authenticity of his work and continued to push it into the school and academic teachings.
    Further that the Minister and the co-chairpeople of his co-design committee continued to recognise the work and the author by expelling and shaming a member of the co-design committee. I suggest they did this lest her accusations derail the already suspect basis by which they were advancing the “Voice to Government” ideology.
    Under the Westminster system of Government I believe the Minister has no option but to resign and suspend the work of the co-design committee.

  • lbloveday

    “I’m praying for Christian revival – for people to read the Bible, heed its message, and so arm themselves for the fight.”
    .
    I hope they don’t read the Old Testament, heed its message, arm themselves for the fight and do as “God has commanded”, :
    .
    Deuteronomy 20:10 “When you go to attack a city, you must first offer peace to the people there.
    11 If they accept your offer and open their gates, ALL THE PEOPLE IN THAT CITY WILL BECOME YOUR SLAVES and be forced to work for you.
    12 But if the city refuses to make peace with you and fights against you, you should surround the city.
    13 And when the Lord your God lets you take the city, YOU MUST KILL ALL THE MEN IN IT.
    14 But you may TAKE FOR YOURSELVES THE WOMEN, THE CHILDREN, the cattle, and everything else in the city. You may use all these things. The Lord your God has given these things to you.
    15 That is what you must do to all the cities that are very far from you—the cities that are not in the land where you will live.
    16 “But when you take cities in the land that the Lord your God is giving you, YOU MUST KILL EVERYONE.
    17 YOU MUST COMPLETELY DESTROY ALL THE PEOPLE—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. The Lord your God has commanded you to do this.

  • simonbenson65

    Just three points. Always good to see Fairfax media really ‘keeping up’ with ‘current’ ‘debates’ even if they are a tad slow off the mark. God knows, the SMH, once NSW’s ‘newspaper of record’, now closely resembles the ‘Trading Post’ (for those who remember it). Next, Australia’s conquest was not European at all. It was British. Brexit showed – if ever it needed demonstration – how different the two are. European rape and pillage style colonialism, disguised as counter Reformation ‘mission’ and justified by post-Trent apologists as somehow ‘ordained by God’ – especially that of France, Spain, Portugal and Belgium – should never be compared with conquest by the British. I know who I’d rather be colonised by, and it’s not Europeans! Finally, it is vaguely amusing that ‘Dark Emu’ received (somewhat predictably) the NSW & the People’s Republic of Victoria premiers’ literary awards! It is de rigueur, of course, for any self-respecting leftie to have a copy on their bookshelf in between ‘Das Kapital’ & last week’s ‘Pravda’. For my own part, I’ll wait until it’s in the rummage sale of a Salvos store among the dog-eared copies of ‘The Mark Latham Diaries’ and preloved Barbara Cartlands. Even then, unless its marked price was in the cents, I’d regard it as a complete rip-off. I hasten to say it is also quite comic to see Melbourne Uni Press sacrificing intellectual honesty for spineless ideological expediency and political correctness. But then again, what can one expect from pigs but grunts.

  • L Louis

    Correction: The Conversation has recovered from its lapse into honesty by culling comments from over 250 to 208. No prize for identifying those deleted. Hint, they did not include
    Rene Van Meeuwen
    Assistant Professor of Architecture, The University of Western Australia
    “History is a story. Pascoe’s story is amazing. His omissions are easily read between the lines. Dark Emu is one of the best histories of my land I have read. It makes our world more nuanced and understandable. Academia is operative.”

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