Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A case study in Leftist stupidity and refusal to learn -- the "stolen generation" myth in Australia

On very shallow grounds, many Australian Leftist historians  have alleged  that 1930s social workers took black (Aboriginal) children from their families willy-nilly and forcibly adopted them into white families in order to make them more like whites.  The allegation  suits the Leftist tendency to see "racism" under every bed.

Australia is a very tolerant, laid back country that has been absorbing people from many cultures for a couple of hundred years but Leftists are determined to find that Australians are racist -- and the "stolen generation" myth serves that purpose.  That the social workers concerned were do-gooder predecessors of today's Leftists doesn't seem to register.

Note the word "generation".  That implies thousands.  But at most one or two dubious removals have been identified.  Only endangered children were removed -- for their own safety -- as various official enquiries in modern times have found.

So how did Leftist historians get it so wrong?  By committing a characteristic Leftist mistake:  Thinking things were simpler than they were.  In particular, they committed a mistake well known to psychologists:  Mistaking attitudes for actions.

Psychologists themselves fall into that mistake at times.  The most hilarious example of that happens when psychologists purport to study the psychology of conservatism -- aiming to disparage it, of course.  They produce sets of statements -- "scales" -- which they believe typify conservative thought and then correlate agreement with them to all sorts of maladjustment.  And when they find a correlation they think they have proved that conservatives are a sick lot.

One problem:  The scales fail to predict vote for conservative political candidates in national elections.  From Adorno, through McClosky to Altemeyer, their lists of "conservative" attitudes do not predict conservative actions.  Which shows you how little Leftists know about conservatism -- or anything else much for that matter.

The best known example of an attitude-behavior gap in fact comes from the era of the allegedly "stolen" generation.  In the 1930s LaPiere asked restaurateurs if they would serve a minority   person.  Most said No.  So LaPiere sent minorities into the restaurants of the Naysayers and found that they almost all were served without demur.  The restaurateurs' attitudes and actions usually did not match.

Why?  Because of practical difficulties, mostly.  Tossing someone out of your restaurant would create an unpleasant scene which was best avoided.

And a similar thing happened among Australian social workers of the 1930s.  Like most people in that era (and indeed today) the social workers saw Aborigines as a sad lot and wished to improve their situation.  And a solution that occurred to some of them was to remove all black children from their families and have them brought up by whites in white adoptive families.  They failed to grasp how profound are the differences between Aborigines and whites.  You are still not allowed to see that, of course.

And the reason why they did not implement that policy was that it was both difficult and mostly illegal.  So it was only when the safety of a black child was threatened that they used their social-work powers to remove that child from its family.  Given the high rate of dysfunction in black families, however, the only reasonably available adoptive families were often white.  And thus the myth of "stolen" children arose among incautious Leftist historians.  Caution is in short supply among Leftists generally.

The myth persists among Australian Leftists to this day and it is such a pernicious myth that social workers are often now afraid to remove endangered Aboriginal children from dysfunctional families.  It's a myth that kills black kids:  Another bad effect of Leftism.

For a systematic debunking of the myth, see historian Keith Windschuttle's magisterial tome "The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume Three, The Stolen Generations 1881-2008". For more concise treatments of the topic see here and here and here (scroll down)

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