Taboos Decay in Australia

Things have changed – a little –
for the better in Australia. Debate is once again
permitted on the role of immigration in Australia. The
triumphalism of the open-borders lobby has been
shattered, perhaps irrevocably. This happened in part
because of the courage and honesty of our greatest
living historians,

Geoffrey Blainey.
An account of the savage assault
Prof. Blainey suffered from Australia`s elites—and his
recent, unexpected rehabilitation—permits an accurate
cameo of how opinions are changing in my country.

Yes, we still have an immigration
system that ignores our

national interests
, and responds to

pressure groups
.

Of course, we receive steady doses
of

government bromides
touting

multiculturalism
as “the Australian way of life.”
Our public funds still support flamboyant swindlers,
such as Kazi Zafar Ahmed. (This “refugee
is actually the former Prime Minister of a foreign
country. Ahmed looted Bangladesh from 1989-1991, and now
lives on an Australian disability pension in Sydney.)
But at least now opposition to these idiocies can be
effectively expressed.

It all began 20 years ago, on March
18, 1984. On that night, Geoffrey Blainey took the stage
at a Rotary Club in the unremarkable town of

Warrnambool
—a pleasant enough metropolis (boasting
28,500 people) in southwestern Victoria—to speak the
unspeakable. To speak about immigration.

Before I tell you what he said—and
it was pretty mild stuff—you should know how important
and respected Blainey was at the time of his remarks.
Born in 1930, Blainey had made national literary
headlines in 1954 with the first of his books (he has
written 36 at last count):

The Peaks of Lyell
. His subsequent best-selling
histories included

The Rush That Never Ended
(1963),

The Tyranny of Distance
(1966), and

The Triumph of the Nomads
(1975).

Blainey`s writing was something
new. He combined exceptional gifts in

scrupulous primary research
with a genuine poet`s
eye for desolate landscapes. See the following segment
from The Triumph of the Nomads. Try to stop
reading it once you have started:

“Fire
grilled or roasted their [Aborigines`] meat and fish; it
cooked some of their vegetables. In many regions fire
burned the dead and raised the ornamental scars on the
living. Fire deterred the evil spirits from approaching
a camp at night. A flaming stick, it was often believed,
would curb the wind or halt the rain. Smoke was the most
popular insect repellant, and in parts of Arnhem Land
smoking fires were kept burning all night under a kind
of stilt but known as a `mosquito house` in order to
protect sleepers from mosquitoes. Near Cape York the
smoke of slow-burning fires served the same purpose in
igloo-like huts. Flames were used to drive snakes from
long grass where nomads hoped to camp that night; and in
parts of the River Murray hot ashes were used as a
poultice on human limbs bitten by snakes.

Fire
not only helped to manufacture spears and hafted axes;
it was also used instead of an axe. If the camp lacked
firewood, women would light a small fire near the base
of a tree; and by carefully tending the fire they burned
through the trunk until the tree toppled.”

Blainey`s
work earned him the prestigious post of Professor of
History at the University of Melbourne in 1977.
He was a beloved writer and a serious scholar—someone
with the credibility that say, Ken Burns, enjoys in the
U.S. today. This made it all the more shocking to
high-minded Australians when he registered his dissent
from current opinion. What should shock –and anger—us is
how viciously they responded.

Here, taken from

The Age (Melbourne)
of March 19, 1984 are some of
the remarks that Blainey made on this occasion:

“The
pace of

Asian immigration to Australia
is now well ahead of

public opinion
. . .

“Rarely
in the history of the modern world has a nation given
such preference to a tiny ethnic minority of its
population as the Australian Government has done in the
past few years, making that minority the favored
majority in its immigration policy.

“It is almost as if we have
turned the

white-Australia policy
inside out … an increasing
proportion of Australians, people who in the past 30
years have shown great tolerance, seem to be resentful
of the large number of South-East Asians who are being
brought in, have little chance of gaining work and who
are living, through no fault of their own, at the
taxpayers` expense.”

Now you, gentle VDARE reader, might
not be shaken to the marrow by these sentiments. But
1984 wasn`t a good year for free speech in Australia—as
Blainey would soon find out. He was immediately rebuked
by Immigration Minister Stewart West, who chided him for
failing to realizing (as he cheerily put it) that
“increasing Asianization [is]

inevitable
.”
Foreign Minister (and future
Governor-General) Bill Hayden

rejoiced
in the likelihood that “We will not just
become a

multicultural society
… we will become a Eurasian
society and we will be all the better for it.”
(Many
years later Hayden frantically backtracked from these
sentiments.)

To re-read the magazine
commentaries and yellowed press-cuttings of two decades
back, is to be reminded of how monolithic “respectable”
opinion was in Australia. There was no Internet, of
course, and no heterodox bloggers. No intelligentsia
which even pretended to be “right-wing.” No

Pauline Hanson
. No contrarians such as

Keith Windschuttle


questioning
the

official victimology
of the Aborigines. In effect,
no one at all who had the ability to rally to Blainey`s
defense. So he took the heat alone—and it almost
destroyed him.

By September 1984, 590 items had
appeared in the Australian press on the subject of
Blainey`s speech. Rent-a-mobs thronged college campuses
demanding he be driven from the academy and public life.
His phone rang off the hook with death threats—and

Blainey`s daughter
was physically attacked. One of
his colleagues, activist

Henry Reynolds
, said of Blainey to The Weekend
Australian
on February 16, 1985: “What you`ve got
to expect if you engage in that sort of public
controversy is that you are going to be shot at … you
have got to expect to be clobbered and people will
really jump on you.”

Blainey`s other colleagues produced
an “open letter”

denouncing
him, signed by 23 academic historians,
and a 1985 essay collection called

Surrender Australia?
Outbursts came from former
cabinet ministers such as Andrew Theophanous, who
bemoaned Blainey`s apparent disrespect towards “a
diversity of cultures [which] have a right to contribute
to the evolving Australian culture.”
[PDF] (Theophanous
later contributed to Australian diversity by becoming
the first serving Federal politician

to end up in jail
, having been convicted of taking
bribes from drug barons and seeking sexual favors from a
gangster`s Chinese moll, in return for arranging her
visa.)

Blainey lost his job as a
television commentator for the government-run Australian
Broadcasting Corporation. Except for a few Sydney
newspapers, and the Christian Science Monitor,
most print media ignored him. Eventually, after six
years of this war of attrition, Blainey resigned early
from his Melbourne professorship. One of his chief
attackers, a former

Communist Party card-carrier
named Stuart Macintyre,
took his chair. The eminent Blainey found himself fobbed
off with the chancellorship of Ballarat University, an
obscure post where he was expected to quietly fade from
view.

And now stand by for what Victorian
actor-managers used to call The Transformation Scene.

Blainey`s fortunes have turned
around, and he has begun to be taken seriously
again—after some 20 years of abuse. Undoubtedly the
Soviet Union`s downfall helped discredit the Australian
far Left. Public opinion here has shifted thanks to
events such as the Asian financial collapse, the crisis
in

East Timor
, the terror attacks of 9/11 and the
atrocity in

Bali
which killed

so many of our countrymen
. And , of course, more
years of experience with more immigrants. Reality has a
way of seeping through the most impermeable of
intellectual defenses.

At any rate, Blainey received in
his 70th year Australia`s highest civilian award, the
Companion of Honor. In 2001, the radio arm of a
partially contrite Australian Broadcasting Corporation

invited Blainey
to give its annual

Boyer Lectures.
These six talks appeared almost
immediately in book form, as

This Land Is All Horizons
. Ivan R. Dee publishers of
Chicago reissued in May 2003 (with Jacques Barzun`s
imprimatur) Blainey`s magnificent

Short History of the World
, first published by
Penguin three years before. In 2003 there appeared
another collection of essays,

The Fuss That Never Ended
, which summoned even his
long-time enemies to treat Blainey`s work

respectfully
. I wouldn`t say that Blainey`s critics
have repented. But at least some seem to have
entertained some second
thoughts.

It would be impertinent to complete
even the sketchiest account of Blainey`s doings without
emphasizing what all who have ever met him know: that he
is far more modest than anyone of his talents has the
right to be. Far too softhearted for his own good, he
has never expressed the smallest public bitterness over
the treatment he has endured. He speaks in a low, rather
husky voice, which lacks all the adornments of a
conventional orator, but which can and does reduce a
roomful of impatient sophomores to pin-dropping silence
by its sheer incantatory erudition.

The story of Geoffrey Blainey shows
that

nice guys
 don`t invariably

finish last
.

R. J. Stove [send
him mail
] lives in Melbourne. He is a Contributing
Editor at


The American Conservative
, and has also been
published in


The New Criterion
and

Chronicles
. He is author of


The Unsleeping Eye: Secret Police and Their Victims
.