Howard rewrites history

Issue 

On June 26, federal education minister Julie Bishop announced a new board to draft a new national Australian history curriculum. Among the draftees are conservative historian Geoffrey Blainey and right-wing commentator Gerard Henderson. This is the Howard government enforcing its own racist ideology on history teaching.

It was Blainey who first coined the phrase, promoted by PM John Howard, "the black armband view of history". By this he means to cast doubt on the fact that the European invasion of Australia involved genocide against Indigenous peoples. Blainey believes that Australians are too ashamed of their past, and that they should instead celebrate their successes. His is the "three cheers view of history".

Henderson, of the right-wing Sydney Institute, has been a vocal supporter of Howard's conservative policies, in particular the so-called "war on terrorism". It was at a recent meeting of the Sydney Institute that Howard first announced his latest racist attack on Indigenous people in the Northern Territory.

These appointments are a further effort by Howard to push his government's racist and genocidal agenda. Australian students deserve better. Young people have historically been among the first to speak out against racism; they led the campaign against the racist Pauline Hanson (whose policies were largely adopted by Howard).

As it launches its latest attack on Aboriginal self-determination, Howard wants to obscure the historical reasons for Aboriginal poverty and health. He wants to portray Aborigines as inherently in need of his "help". Howard and his ilk yearn for a return to the days when students were taught about the "glory" of Australia's imperialist wars. He, and his ideological cheer squad, are not so keen for the real history about the white invasion to be given space in the curriculum.

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