Nick Cater in The Australian gave Anzac-questioning historians a serve and characterised Honest History (incorrectly) as their house organ. Cater’s commenters were reasonably evenly balanced. Andrew Bolt in the Herald-Sun and the Daily Telegraph quoted a slab of Mr Cater’s piece and his commenters were in furious agreement.
In the course of all of this, the numbers of visitors to Honest History’s website went up more than 400 per cent from one day to the next and ten days later our daily average was still about one-third above what it had been. We have no idea what this flood of visitors thought of our site but those who troubled to read it would have gained a different impression of it from the one presented by Mr Cater and Mr Bolt.
Honest History wrote a letter to The Australian, politely responding to Mr Cater’s piece, but it has not yet been published. We are not holding our breath. The letter read as follows:
Now that the Anzac tumult and shouting has died, it might be worth pointing out a couple of facts to Nick Cater (“Anzac cynics blind to reality”, 22/4). The Honest History website, far from being the house organ of leftist military historians, is a repository of a wide range of historical resources and is supported by many distinguished historians, from experts on the Liberal Party to experts on the history of sex in Australia. Our motto is “not only Anzac but also”, recognising that while Anzac is clearly important in our national story, so are many other things. We define “honest history” simply as “interpretation robustly suported by evidence”. We see the practice of history as a contest between such interpretations; we make no judgements as to whether some historians are honest and some not.
Mr Cater did recognise that a “broader debate” about Australian history is welcome; the centenary of World War I provides a great opportunity for that debate to occur, provided we are not diverted by excessive corporate- and government-financed Anzackery (bombastic celebration often based on mythology). Meanwhile, the articles of Mervyn Bendle, who Mr Cater quotes, will continue to be indexed in Honest History’s comprehensive database, as will those of Mr Cater. Oh, by the way, visitors to our website on the day of Mr Cater’s article were at an all-time high. Keep it up, Nick!