– 10 October 2016 –
Unless trends dramatically change in the next few years, official celebrations of Columbus Day around the world are coming to an end.
Since Columbus Day 2015, at least 14 communities in the United States have passed measures designating the second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples Day.
The changes build on recent efforts to shift the day’s focus from the Italian explorer, beginning in big cities including Seattle, Minneapolis and Albuquerque, and spreading to counties and school districts.
“Indigenous Peoples Day represents a shift in consciousness,” said Dr. Leo Killsback, a citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Nation and assistant professor of American Indian Studies at Arizona State University.
“It acknowledges that indigenous peoples and their voices are important in today’s conversations.”
“Conversations.” There’s another word that the Left has hijacked and mangled. On the surface, it’s a mutual exchange of thoughts and ideas between multiple parties; but in the Left’s context, a “conversation” is their attempt to force one group of people to quietly accept self-righteous, condescending, and utterly self-destructive instruction.
Even in the Spain, where the monarchy sponsored Columbus’ voyage, people are rethinking his legacy.
A group of left-wing city council members in Barcelona called for the city to remove a 196-foot statue of Christopher Columbus in one of its most heavily trafficked intersections as part of a proposal to strike the October 12 national holiday and return it to a regular working day.
Council member María José Lecha González said public commemoration of Columbus glorifies colonialism and imperialism, and called the holiday a “mockery” of the genocide of the indigenous population.
Formerly a monument to the man who discovered the Americas for Europe, now a monument to the ugly barbaric forces who will destroy what European peoples have built.
Regardless of how Columbus treated the Indians he encountered (and it doesn’t seem that he treated them any worse than European peasants of that time), Columbus bravely crossed the Atlantic, discovered America for European civilization, and established an enduring European presence. We of European descent in the Americas owe our existence, our cultures, and our nations to the vision of this one man. Had some other explorer discovered America ten, fifty, or a hundred years later, today’s world would be radically different.
Those of native descent have no reason to celebrate Columbus. He ultimately brought the diseases that wiped so many of them out, and the settlers who displaced them. Today, some of these natives see the weakness of whites and are taking advantage.
But don’t imagine for a second that our capitulation to these groups will win their thanks and approval for very long. They don’t want dialogue and understanding, they will tear us down until we are a forgotten people, if we continue to let them. And these natives will live no better after our demise.
If we don’t defend our symbols and our history, then we have no future.
A good defense of Columbus can be found at the Catholic Education Resource Center:
In all of history, only the Europeans and the Polynesians of the south Pacific have been true discoverers, sailing for the explicit purpose of finding new lands, trading with their people, and colonizing them. And of all discoverers Christopher Columbus was the greatest, because he accomplished the most against the highest odds.
Before Columbus’ time all European voyages had followed coastlines, or crossed open seas to lands previously known or at least sighted by storm-driven ships. Only Columbus set off directly across a broad, unknown sea with no specific knowledge of how far it extended or what lay on the other side. To be sure, Columbus was convinced that he could reach Asia from Europe within the time during which the provisions he carried in his three ships would sustain his men. But he was wrong about that. If America had not existed — had not been in the way — Columbus would have had to turn back long before reaching his goal, or he and every man on his ships would have died.
[. . .]
When, after leaving the Canary Islands September 6, they had been out of sight of land for a full month — a longer voyage out of sight of land than any other in the history of the world up to that time — Columbus’ men became frightened and angry. During most of the voyage the wind, often strong, had blown from astern or nearly so. How were they ever going to get back, beating against it? Columbus knew that further north the prevailing winds blew from the west, and planned to go north to catch the westerlies before he returned. But his men knew nothing of world geography; all they knew was what they had seen, that in these strange and empty seas the winds almost always blew from the east or the northeast. On October 10 the men of the Santa Maria came to the verge of open mutiny.
Columbus tells us in his Log how he answered them:
They [the crew] could stand it no longer. They grumbled and complained of the long voyage, and I reproached them for their lack of spirit, telling them that, for better or worse, they had to complete the enterprise on which the Catholic Sovereigns [Isabel and Fernando] had sent them. I cheered them on as best I could, telling them of all the honors and rewards they were about to receive. I also told the men that it was useless to complain, for I had started out to find the Indies and would continue until I had accomplished that mission, with the help of Our Lord.
That last sentence summed up the heart and essence of the whole life and achievement of Christopher Columbus.
[. . .]
Upon the islands that he first discovered on the other side of the Atlantic, Columbus found native inhabitants, whom he called Indians, believing himself to be in “the Indies” of Asia. And here began the long and troubled story of Columbus’ interaction with the native Americans.
Before going into the historical details of that interaction, it is essential to clear away the fog of idealization and special pleading that now surrounds so much talk about the American Indians. First of all we have to understand the situation that existed in the world of the Indian of the Caribbean and mid- America when Columbus arrived.
It seems to be true, as is so often repeated today, that when Columbus found them, the Indians inhabiting the Bahama Islands, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the great island the Spanish called Hispaniola (now divided between Haiti and the Dominican Republic) were a gentle, happy, attractive people living peacefully in good ecological balance with their surroundings. They were known as Taino, or Arawaks.
But they were not destined to remain in their Eden-like situation for long, even if Columbus and the Spanish had not come. Advancing steadily northward from the long chain of Caribbean islands called the Antilles was one of the most ferocious people in recorded history, the Caribs. They were savage conquerors who practiced cannibalism, not as an occasional cultic ritual, but as a regular diet. Captured prisoners were immediately eaten. Conquered peoples were systematically devoured. On every island they seized, the Caribs soon exterminated every Taino. On no island did the two tribes coexist.
Across the island-studded Caribbean Sea lay Mexico. Though politically and culturally advanced beyond most other Indian cultures — the Mexica had a large army, a well-developed governmental administration, a system of writing, and stone temples — their empire, which we call Aztec, carried out ritual human sacrifice on a scale far exceeding any recorded of any other people in the history of the world. The law of the Mexica empire required a thousand human sacrifices to the god Huitzilopochtli in every town with a temple, every year; there were 371 subject towns in the empire, and the majority had full-scale temples. There were many other sacrifices as well. The total number was at least 50,000 a year, probably much more. The early Mexican historian Ixtlilxochitl estimated that one out of every five children in Mexico was sacrificed. When in the year 1487 the immense new temple of Huitzilopochtli was dedicated in Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), more than 80,000 men were sacrificed, at fifteen seconds per man, for four days and four nights of almost unimaginable horror.
It must be emphasized that there is no serious dispute about these facts and figures. All reputable and informed historians of pre-Columbian Mexico accept their essential accuracy, though some prefer not to talk about them. These facts of history totally dispose of the romantic fantasy of a hemisphere full of peaceful, nature-loving Indians who threatened no one until the cruel white man came.
That the conversion of the people he found was a central purpose of Christopher Columbus is made unmistakably clear by an entry in his log book written November 6, when he was exploring the coast of Cuba. It is addressed directly to Isabel and Fernando:
I have to say, Most Serene Princes, that if devout religious persons know the Indian language well, all these people would soon become Christians. Thus I pray to Our Lord that Your Highnesses will appoint persons of great diligence in order to bring to the Church such great numbers of peoples, and that they will convert these peoples. . . . And after your days, for we are all mortal, you will leave your realms in a very tranquil state, free from heresy and wickedness, and you will be well received before the Eternal Creator.