I’m starting to learn what it might be like to live in China but fortunately my experience is actually pretty benign. I’m in a sort of virtual China, where my physical, mental and material well-being are preserved but my intellectual life, or part thereof, is severely constrained.
Let me explain. I am the author of Bitter Harvest – the illusion of Aboriginal agriculture in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu. I am sure that most Spectator readers will be aware of this phenomenally successful book which postulates that, contrary to what we have always believed, Aborigines were not nomadic hunter/gatherers but sophisticated agriculturalist who invented government 120,000 years ago and wrought a pan-continental peace across the continent of Australia. Pascoe may be correct – I freely concede I am not a historian – but my book thoroughly demolishes the case that he has presented in support of his theory. In fact, Dark Emu is based almost entirely on falsehoods, misrepresentations, deceptions and inflammatory rhetoric.
My virtual China is the People’s Republic of Wikipedia, wherein resides an article extolling Dark Emu. I signed up as a Wikipedia editor and attempted to point out in the ‘Critical Reception’ segment of that article that Pascoe’s thesis had been challenged in my book. I made no attempt to argue my case or promote my book, other than to point out its existence. I was quickly advised that I had a conflict of interest and my editing was disruptive. My suggested addition was rejected. I did not agree with the logic but I accepted the decision. I made no further attempt to include mention of my book, but I did discover that others had also attempted to have mention of Bitter Harvest included but were also rebuffed, not, of course, because they had a conflict of interest but because my book was published by the hateful, racist, extreme right-wing Quadrant Books. (You can discover the gory details of his initial episode here.) It became clear to me that Wikipedia editors are highly partisan and that Bruce Pascoe is a protected species.
My second mission behind the Woke Curtain came when Dr Ian Keen, an eminent anthropologist published a paper in a peer reviewed journal, also debunking Pascoe’s thesis. This time I, and others, sought to have mention of Dr Keen’s paper included in the Dark Emu article on the grounds that he is highly qualified and non-partisan. Again, I failed and, for my sins, was blocked as a Wikipedia editor. (If you are interested, you can read about it here.)
Shortly after that, however, Dr Keen’s paper was included in the article but I remain blocked. Wikipedia editors have their own Talk Page, wherein their own activities can be canvassed. It was via this forum that I was invited to submit a request to be unblocked. This I did and got rebuffed a number of times, mostly on technicalities. So I mounted a detailed repercharge.
Nothing happened – I received no substantive response to my detailed submission – so I asked if anyone was looking at my request. The response was to block me from even editing my own Talk page on the grounds that I had made too many unblock requests. So I am now in the position that I cannot even argue in my own defence. The prosecution team and the commissar in charge of this have closed their books and moved on and, in the PRW, I am a now non-person.
Wikipedia is a useful resource in relation to non-controversial topics, such as the Periodic Table, but, my experience shows it cannot be trusted on any topic in which Right and Left perspectives clash.
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