Every first grader in America used to know that Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas in 1492 after a grueling voyage across the Atlantic from Spain.
If students chose to delve deeper into the subject, they learned that the great explorer was from Genoa in present-day Italy, was possibly of Jewish heritage, and went on to become a Spanish admiral and governor in the New World.
He was lauded as a daring navigator who lobbied the Spanish crown to support his mission, endured much privation on the journey, and finally accomplished his ultimate goal. That accomplishment was the start of the American story.
Or so we were once taught.
Now, no longer.
In many schools at every level across the nation, Columbus and his voyage are looked upon as original sin.
His discovery of the Americas was only an opening shot in the brutal subjugation of native peoples and then African slaves, a repression that goes on today as we continue to profit off the immoral wages of their labor.
And that, put simply, is horse manure.
It violates so many rules of history and logic it’s hard to know where to begin. However, I will give it, if only on this holiday commemorating the intrepid Genoese adventurer, a shot as a hat tip to a hero.
The trick of judging historical figures by today’s politically correct standards is not new to historical study.
Hence, the term “dead white males” — a group who used to be known as America’s Founding Fathers.
The Left’s “long march through the institutions” has yielded them many prizes and a commanding role in most chattering class professions in the United States.
In an act of masochism that can only be compared to my consistent loyalty to the Miami Dolphins, they damn the building blocks of the very system that affords them the opportunity to consider themselves fully paid-up members of the leftist intellectual hive.
Columbus was a man of his age and the 15th and 16th centuries in Spain were not exactly a good day in Portland, Oregon. The Reconquista of Spain form the Moors (North African Muslims) by the Spanish royal Houses of Castile; and Leon was finished just prior to the mission of Columbus. Some of the riches from that, and from the Inquisition, were used to finance the project.
Oh, no, some cry — “blood money!”
Not quite, in the standards of the day.
Religious persecution and the convenient scapegoating of various groups were standard operating procedure then. It is hard to get into the minds of some that 21st century democracy did not spring whole into the world sometime around when the T-Rex ruled the Earth, and ergo any infraction to the democratic process after that is an unforgivable trespass upon human rights.
The Spanish crown wanted more land and more loot — completely understandable and even in some ways laudable goals in keeping with the then-Spanish national interest. There was a public primary goal, in reality an ancillary interest, in spreading the Christian gospel and bringing the word of the Roman Catholic Church to the benighted natives.
As a descendant of one of those natives, I for one do not have a problem with replacing flying snake gods with Christianity. Plus, “Jesus” is way easier to pronounce than “Quetzalcoatl.”
After their discovery and conquest of the New World, and because of it, Spain became the world’s first superpower for about a century. It only lost that undisputed title after the debacle of the failed invasion of England in the Spanish Armada of 1588. So not a bad move — the cash spent on Columbus, for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain.
And of course it stands to reason that an undertaking of this magnitude, the founding and populating literally of another massive part of the planet, is not going to happen without somebody’s hair getting mussed.
Yes, Indians were treated horribly and is some cases murdered. Yes, much value was earned through their toil. And yes, the exact same thing happens today all over the world. In Africa today, in fact, slavery is still quite rampant, a fact usually overlooked by the media lest they ruin the “only white man bad” narrative.
Revisionist historians will take a constantly repugnant aspect of the human condition like slavery and decry it as somehow initially particular to Columbus and the consequences of his three ships. That might work if we’ve always lived in the world of 2019 and its attendant ethics (though even if we did, Columbus may not have cared much because his quest was much more personal than that).
It may seem gullible and naïve to believe today, but I do: Columbus had a dream. He knew from nautical history, astronomy, and his sailor’s gut that something lay beyond the known limits of geography. He thought it was a quicker way to Asia — hence “Indian.” He was determined to fulfill his life’s ambition and find that passage no matter what the obstacles. He lobbied crown heads across Europe for the chance to execute the mission.
He was turned down many times and almost gave up the chase. But he persisted and can lay claim to perhaps the greatest seafaring voyage (it was fraught with danger and sacrifice), discovery, and settlement in the history of mankind.
This was his destiny and he knew it. Thus even on that very human level of achievement through adversity, the man deserves to be considered a hero.
For without his heroism, if some other power — say the Chinese, who were embarked on great voyages themselves; or the Scandinavians, who also brushed these shores reportedly earlier by centuries than Columbus — would have reached the Americas and made it stick, our world would be very different today.
With it, so would be the history of said world and very possibly not for the better.
No United States as know it, using the Butterfly Effect Theory — and how would the globe have faired against vicious aggressors like the Nazi Germans or the Soviets? Who lifts the countless dregs of Europe out of penury and into success by their Ellis Island period immigration here? Who devises and develops the inventions, goods, and services that run modern life?
Perhaps others differently and in time. But not like this — not as has been a tremendous boon to most across the map of Earth. Not as we know it.
The life and world that we know, and that many of us in this country cherish, warts and all, came down to the courage, fortitude, and dream of one man at the inception.
His name is Christopher Columbus and today is his day.
May it always be and may his heroism always be remembered with it.
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