Empty history

Thursday 26 January 2006 11:27 PM

Why is it that critics of the Prime Minister or his government, especially letter writers, insist on polarising political debate with all-or-nothing rhetoric? Are those of us who long for a return to fairness and an end to Howardism so insecure in our position, that acknowledging a hint of validity in anything Howard says or does is unthinkable and punishable by death? Mature debate requires the humility to recognise that we too wear blinkers at some point. Responses to the PM's oration on the teaching of History have so far evinced the usual polarity. What of the possibility that at least some of what he has said warrants reflection? John Howard is far from alone in asking whether postmodernism has subjectivised history out of existence as a discipline. Older Australians (Howard is but one) would naturally ask plainly "But what actually happened?" They deserve a plain answer. Young Australians deserve a better history diet than the PM's jingoistic filter allows. But they will not be well nourished by endless reflective analysis devoid of a narrative framework.