Professor Henry Reynolds, born in 1938, is typical of too many historians of his generation. He has dedicated his life to the service of people who are not his own people. The Israelis have a term for Jews who, like Henry, seem to be ashamed of their own culture: they call such people “self-hating Jews”.
Although his ethnic background is unknown to Endeavour, Henry enjoyed all the benefits of our Anglo-Celtic Australian culture. He received a good state school education in Hobart, then attended the University of Tasmania. After a spell of school-teaching in England and Australia he obtained a plum job at what is now James Cook University in Townsville.
In 1970 to 1971 Henry received a British Council travelling scholarship, but this didn’t endear him to Australia’s British heritage. From his academic perch in Townsville, then later at the Centre for Aboriginal Education of the University of Tasmania, he did his ungrateful best to defame the early British settlers, particularly by promoting the idea that our ancestors were nasty to the Aborigines. He was one of the founders of what the doyen of Australian historians, Geoffrey Blainey, dubbed the “black armband” school of Australian history.
In 2002 a better researcher than Henry, Keith Windschuttle, accused Henry of making up evidence to back his fraudulent claims against the early white settlers. Keith methodically trawled through Henry’s “references” and found that they often didn’t stack up.
You might think that Henry would have then gone to ground licking his wounds. Alas, it doesn’t work like that any more. Like many historians of his generation, Henry is still pontificating against everything British in Australian culture, and Henry still gets an undeservedly good run in the media.
The latest bee in Henry’s Anglophobe bonnet is that ABC television shows too much content sourced from the United Kingdom. In an article published by two state branches of the Friends of the ABC, Henry laments that “… if ABC1 is the corporation’s flagship, then it frequently sails with the Union Jack at the top of its mast”. Henry then goes on to suggest that ABC TV should be subject to a “content quota” – in other words, Henry wants an upper limit on the amount of British content the ABC should be permitted to broadcast. (See: http://inside.org.au/a-very-british-summer-on-your-abc/)
Yep, Henry is Anglophobic. Yep, Henry wants to censor the national broadcaster to keep decent British culture from our screens. Presumably he’s happy with all the current British TV rubbish that enforces political correctness, that makes heroic but ludicrous efforts to pretend that multiculturalism is working, that boosts homosexuality, and so on.
But what Henry would no doubt like to see removed from our screens is what the BBC does best: superb adaptations of great Anglo literature, such as their 2005 version of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. In 2006, Bleak House won the Best Drama Serial category at the British Academy Television Awards, and Anna Maxwell Martin won the Best Actress award. The series was nominated for ten Emmy Awards, winning two.
In his criticism of the ABC, Henry Reynolds wrote:
Are they ever embarrassed by the Union Jack on the mast head? Do they ever feel uncomfortable when night after night ABC screens are dominated by British programs? … . It is as though [the ABC] doesn’t think it matters – that British and Australian programs are easily interchangeable, that what is of interest or concern over there will evoke the same response and be equally relevant here, half a world away.
Ratings figures would suggest that ABC viewers are not “embarrassed by the Union Jack”, are not “uncomfortable” with our ethnic links, and prefer real British culture to the half-baked political propaganda so dear to the likes of Henry Reynolds.