Several newspaper articles reporting the demise of Columbus Day celebrations throughout the nation had one common theme: the mirthless, mindless, iron-fisted stupidity of political correctness dominating our country. Even here in Columbus, Ohio, there has been no Columbus Day parade for a decade.
Why? Christopher Columbus is not allowed to be celebrated: he is responsible for a veritable “holocaust” against the Native Americans, for slavery, for the spread of disease, etc. etc. etc. Have you not heard the left-wing version of History?
In the Middle Ages it was not impossible for a corpse to be disinterred and placed on trial. Today left-wing revisionist historians prevent the truth from staying the truth, putting Columbus’ corpse on trial for crimes he was not responsible for.
We will agree that Columbus was not perfect, but that he was personally and willfully responsible for the aftermath of his discoveries is patently ridiculous. Imagine the inventor of the firecracker being held responsible for every person ever killed in history by gunpowder!
Columbus should be celebrated because he was a man of persistence and vision and above all, courage. It took him many years to convince a regent to sponsor his obsession: that the West had been sailing the long way to Asia, that according to various ancient geographers (whom everyone believed were correct in their calculations of the earth’s circumference e.g. Posidonius, Ptolemy, etc.) it would be shorter to sail due west. They were wrong (one ancient mathematician, Eratosthenes, had the correct calculation of about 25,000 miles, but his was a minority view), but Columbus could not have known that, and in either case he wanted to discover what lay to the west.
He preferred to reckon position by the stars, and the flights of birds and even the smells in the air. The newly invented astrolabe was not in his hand.
And when you step aboard a reconstruction of the Santa Maria, you cannot help but be amazed at the courage of Columbus and his men! Such a small and seemingly fragile craft for a journey literally into the unknown!
If we hold Columbus responsible for the later darker side of American History, then he should also receive credit – and be celebrated – for its positive and enlightened aspects: the end of Aztec cannibalism against other Native American tribes, the spread of ideas on liberty and self-governance, the invention of the American mind and all of its creations, including our entire modern life-style of personal comfort and convenience!
These things do not happen if Europe stays in Europe: it is only with the discovery and colonization of America that the average oppressed European peasant, and later people from the entire planet, are able to breathe and live as free human beings.
It is regrettable, but understandable, that the manic leftists of today, who view freedom through the dim glasses of fear, fear of themselves and of other people, are the ones who denigrate and distort the historical record and turn Columbus into a single-minded cardboard villain, rather than a man of his time, a man with a vision and the courage and persistence to bring the vision into reality.
Such men and women are needed today: the achievement of such a man should be celebrated, and not vilified, especially by those of little vision, courage, and achievement.