Monday, November 24, 2008

Why paranoid racists make bad historians

Here's my contribution to the discussion occasioned by my article on Nazi Pseudo-History for the Scoop Review of Books.

Martin Doutre caims that I only need to talk to any Maori of sufficient age to receive confirmation that Celts were the original residents of Aotearoa. I rather doubt whether any Maori of any age would endorse the writings of Doutre and the Celtic New Zealand circle, given that these texts are studded with racist abuse of the tangata whenua of this country.

The Franklin E Local article which I’ve discussed characterises Maori as a 'savage’ people, who have Europeans to thank for whatever happiness they today enjoy. In his rambling tome Ancient Celtic New Zealand, Martin Doutre calls Maori an ‘inbred’ (pg 284) race whose culture was characterised by ‘uncompromising cruelty’ (ibid.).

Doutre complains about my discussion of his racism and his conspiracy theories, claiming that these matters are irrelevant to a consideration of his historical ‘research’. But the man’s own writings, and the texts of the Celtic New Zealand circle in general, are inextricably connected to a racist and a conspiracy theory view of the world. Talking about the Celtic New Zealand thesis without talking about racist conspiracy theories would be like talking about the All Blacks without mentioning rugby.

Like Doutre’s book, the Celtic New Zealand website continually segues from pseudo-scholarly discussions of history and archaeology into racist rants about conspiracies of indigenous peoples and ‘politically correct’ academics. It is not only Maori that Doutre and his friends attack: the Celtic New Zealand site also finds time to inveigh against the evils of contemporary South Africa, where whites are apparently facing ‘genocide’ at the hands of uppity Africans. (Oh for the salad days of apartheid!) ‘Red Indians’ are another group to incur the rancour of Doutre and his comrades, for having the insolence to claim to be the indigenous peoples of the Americas, when white peope were really there first.

Doutre and his friends maintain, in the face of all the available historical, archaeological, biological and genetic evidence, that Celts settled much of the Pacific, Southeast Asia and the Americas. All of the impressive features of the traditional cultures of these regions - the pyramids of the Maya, the fantastic cities of the Inca, the extraordinary sculptures of Rapa-Nui, the wood and greenstone carvings of Maori - were the work of white people. In Ancient Celtic New Zealand, Doutre calls features of Maori material culture like the hei tiki and the carved meeting house ‘inexplicable’, and argues that they were the work of white people who had travelled all the way from Western Europe. After these people were usurped, the 'savage’ and backward Maori ‘had no need to build, carve, or create anything’, Doutre insists (pg 276, Ancient Celtic New Zealand).

Doutre finds the most absurdly circuitous explanations for the most straightforwardly explicable features of Maori material culture. Gazing at the beautiful carved storehouse in the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s Maori Court, for instance, Doutre is struck by the structure’s very small doorway. According to oral tradition and the findings of ethnographers, the small doorway was designed to prevent the easy theft of the contents of the storehouse. Doutre, though, insists that the small door is proof that the storehouse was created by a Celtic subtribe of leprechauns who voyaged from Ireland to Aotearoa in ancient times (pg 274, Ancient Celtic New Zealand).

Absurdities of this nature can only be explained by reference to the racism which saturates the worldview of Doutre and his friends. If non-white peoples are by their very nature incapable of creating works of wonder and beauty, like the exhibits in the Maori Court of Ackland’s museum, or the sculptures on Rapa-Nui, or the Mayan pyramids in Guatemala, then white people must ipso facto be found responsible.

And if generation after generation of scholars have disregarded the notion that white people were responsible for the wonders of indigenous cultures, then a global conspiracy must be operating to obscure the truth. In Ancient Celtic New Zealand, Doutre uncovers a truly antique conspiracy, beginning with the Romans, involving the Catholic church and the Jews, and culminating today with Maori activists and politically correct academics, to denigrate the achivements of the Celts of olden days.

Some readers may wish to try to follow Doutre’s dizzying leaps of logic and elucidate his paranoid, racist worldview. Others may wish to laugh at him. Still others will find the fact that such irrational views have made the pages of a provinical magazine with a not inconsiderable readership disturbing. Whatever response we make to Doutre’s writings, though, let us squarely face the fact that these texts are the work of a racist with a conspiracy theory view of the world.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hiya, FYI I wrote a review of Ancient Celtic NZ which was published in Archaeology in New Zealand in 2001 (the June or September volume I think, I don't have it handy).

While I know about the One NZ/Alan Titford connection, I didn't know about the neo-nazi link...Crazy stuff.

I am a card-carrying member of the conspiracy though, a consulting archaeologist that used to work for DOC, so don't trust a thing I say :-)

10:30 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

All this romantic stuff about Celts or whoever is so much hog crap - it's good you are exposing these sad looneys Maps.

It is a dangerous business this distortion of history - like Irwin's denial of the Holocaust.

I'm all for freedom but I think there should be provision to prosecute purveyors of such mis-information as it is harmful and hurtful to Maori.

The publishers should be strongly pressured.

1:17 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truly, the Roman Empire has much explaining to do.

10:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maps is the true racist.

10:16 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


5:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Jono for admitting you are part of the DOC conspiracy.
I wouldn't be surprised if you were a colleague of Kevin Jones, the author of an excellent field guide to New Zealand Archaeology. Although his book is a fund of fascinating information, Jones inexplicably makes no mention of leprechauns in pataka, and totally ignores the incontrovertible evidence of haggis in hangi.
I am writing this in Japan, another corner of the once great Celtic empire. (This is proved by the fact that the oni [devils] in the traditional Japanese folk theatre [kagura] had RED hair).
Ossian Macpherson

10:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kia ora e hoa mā.
Ka mamae te ngākau i te mahi kaikiri o ngā kaituhi pērā i a Doutre.
Me mōhio e ngā tāngata Celt te kino o ngā mahi kaikiri, o ngā mahi whakapēhi tangata hoki.
He tāngata Celt ōku tūpuna. I mōhio rātou ki ngaa pēhitanga o te Empaea ingarihi i te whenua o Airana.
Me tautoko e nga tāngata Celt te mana motuhake o ngā iwi Māori.

Nā Airihi.

10:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet another excellent review of a work by the nutjobs... ReadingTheMaps is so good.
Jono, I know quite a few archaeologists & fellowtravellers (paeleoseismologists and other rational scientists) and all I can say is - convicted by your science!
And, pleeeease - long may science/rationality be a bulwark against the racist 'white power' stupidheads-
kia kaha, kia manawanui- Airini, Celts overseas is one thing & late emigration another (I also come from Pict/Celt bloodlines in the 19th century) but Doutre's fantasies are just that-a nasty indeed vicious fabtastical downplay of all our tipuna maori accomplished - n/n Keri Hulme

8:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im going to purchase this book

4:42 am  

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