Keith Windschuttle: compared with Joe McCarthy

Historians in the News

Quadrant. n. 1. an instrument for taking angular measurements of altitudes in astronomy and navigation. 2. a magazine that takes right-angular measurements of attitudes at the ABC.

THE ranters at Quadrant, hereafter known as Quadranters, must be dancing a quadrille as they quadruple their influence in Australia's most important cultural institutions. For they're not just moving and shaking at the ABC. Though eclipsed by the announcement of Keith Windschuttle joining the public broadcaster's already overbalanced board, the appointment of Imre Salusinszky to head the Australia Council's literature board is another triumph for Quadrant, a journal whose influence is inversely proportionate to its circulation. ...

Yes, I was shocked by Windschuttle's appointment, but only because I was expecting Stan Zemanek, or Alan Jones, the broadcaster who during the cash-for-comment scandals was publicly defended by a powerful fan on the ABC board, Michael Kroger. But the PM is probably saving Jonesy for the chairmanship when McDonald steps down, just as I thought Howard was keeping Windschuttle for Yarralumla once the Governor-General, what's-his-name, retires.

So the ABC is greatly blessed. Our cup of Quadranters runneth over, providing quadraphonic criticism from within, whereas in the past they've been limited to speeches at right-wing think tanks and newspaper columns. And, of course, Quadrant.

The Windschuttle and Salusinszky appointments cap a winning streak for Paddy McGuinness's little magazine that, since the embarrassing revelations of being funded by the CIA, has struggled to balance the books, as opposed to its editorial line. If the quadrants used in navigation were as badly calibrated as Quadrant magazine, not a ship at sea would be safe.

(Incidentally, is the magazine getting grants from the lit board? If so, will Salusinszky feel conflicted in his interests?)

Not only is Quadrant stacking boards like Malcolm Turnbull stacks Liberal Party branches, but the Government has surgically removed Quentin Dempster from the ABC board, to which he was elected by staff in a landslide. Quadrant 1, Quentin 0. The only solace for those who resent Quadrant getting more government help than Qantas gets is that the progressive forces in this country were able to offer Robert Manne political asylum when he found his job editing the journal intolerable. Quadrant 0, Us 1.

Wearing his hat as contrarian historian -- let's keep the term historical revisionist for David Irving -- Windschuttle demands documents to confirm allegations about the killing of indigenous people by white settlers. Oral histories, particularly those of Aborigines describing massacres, aren't worth the paper they're not written on. So one expects Windschuttle to produce the documents on Marxist influence within the ABC, identifying the Marxists who, he says, have been running the place for the past 30 years. So far he reminds me of Joe McCarthy waving a piece of paper -- some say it was his laundry list -- identifying 200 communists working in the US State Department. Come on, Keith! Name the names!

I've got a collection of letters from listeners and viewers who reckon the ABC is run by Jews. Others insist it's the Catholics, citing Kerry O'Brien and Geraldine Doogue. From personal observation, these conspiracy theories are at least as plausible as Windschuttle's....

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