Just posted today on Pearls and Irritations is historian, Henry Reynolds, on some history currently hitting the headlines, noting among other things how graffiti on statues got more coverage in some corners of the media than the destruction of an Indigenous archaelogical site in Western Australia. Reynolds also asked some questions about the government’s decision on university fees:
At this moment when the weight of history presses down upon us the Federal Minister of Education Dan Tehan has announced a doubling of University tuition fees for humanities and social science subjects. It is a very strange decision which has not been adequately explained. He especially named history and philosophy as subjects of dubious worth. So whatever is going on? Is this just the latest assault in the long running culture wars which dates back to John Howard’s campaign against what he called “black arm band” history of twenty five years ago? Is the obsession of conservative Australians with our British heritage one aspect of a rejection of several generations of revisionist history?
Alison Broinowski takes a forensic look at some current legal cases which say a lot about how we approach matters which some people insist have a national security angle, matters to do with Annika Smethurst, Daniel Oakes, and Dylan Welch, Bernard Collaery, Witness J, Witness K, David McBride, Julian Assange. ‘It takes a particular kind of Australian’, says Broinowski, ‘to keep trying to find out about them [operations that government would prefer to keep secret], dare to reveal them, and comprehend the Orwellian newspeak churned out to justify them by the national security establishment’.
Australians must come to understand [says Camilleri] that China is a civilisational state, not a national state. They must become familiar with the values, institutions, language, past achievements in science and culture, and contemporary aspirations of one of the world’s great civilisations, with close to 4,000 years of uninterrupted written history.
23 June 2020