Columbus Day, now celebrated on the second Monday of every October, is the day set aside by Congress in 1937 to commemorate Columbus’ discovery of the Americas in 1492.
Lest you think Columbus Day is only a holiday for white racists in America, it is also celebrated as Dia de la Raza, “Day of the Race,” in many Latin American countries. It has been celebrated in Argentina since 1917, Venezuela and Colombia since 1921, Chile since 1922 and Mexico since 1922.
Critics of Columbus claim that he brought slavery, disease, and death to America, destroying a tranquil and peaceful world in which everybody got along wonderfully with everybody else.
The problem with this view is that when Columbus arrived, slavery, disease, and death were already here. On his second voyage, he discovered that all the men he had left behind had been savagely murdered by the locals, and members of the peaceful Arawak nation had been emasculated, sodomized, and cannibalized by the Carib natives.
In the wake of Columbus’ voyage, conquistadors followed in his wake, including Hernan Cortes. When Cortes conducted his conquest of Mexico in 1520, all the native populations other than the Aztecs joined his hardy band of conquistadors to overthrow the brutal Aztecs, who had reduced them all to slavery and used them as helpless victims in their barbaric rites of human sacrifice. Cortes’ astonished men once encountered a temple which housed more than 100,000 skulls, Aztec trophies stacked like cordwood. The Aztecs performed the sacrifices by forcing the victim to lean back against a rounded rock, exposing his chest, at which point the Aztec priests, hair and clothing matted with blood, would rip open the victim’s chest, seize the beating heart, rip it from his body, and eat it. The point here is that the New World was simply not an Edenic paradise when the Europeans arrived.
Dinesh D’Souza, in his 2014 documentary “America,” debunks a number of myths that have gathered around the European settlement of the Americas. As Arnold Ahlert writes,
For example, while the left singles out the settlers of the New World for “stealing” Native American territory, D’Souza reveals the same land transfers occurred in precisely the same manner among tribes who successively conquered one another. The charge of genocide is debunked when D’Souza explains that far more Indians died from disease than slaughter, and the same lack of natural defenses that made Native Americans vulnerable to European-borne maladies are the ones that made Europeans susceptible to the Asian-borne diseases that devastated Europe. Tellingly, no one refers to the European tragedy as genocide.
This is certainly not to exonerate Columbus entirely, although his relationship with the native nations was for the greater part benign. He also at one point executed some Spaniards for their cruelty to native populations, and the priest Bartolome de las Casas, a true friend and protector of the indigenous tribes, spoke highly of Columbus’ character and treatment of the nations he encountered.
Columbus’ voyage, at that point the longest ever undertaken out of sight of land, opened the New World to European exploration and settlement, and made possible the creation of the United States of America.
And by the way, if one is still inclined to blame Columbus for all of modern civilization’s evils, it might be worth noting that he only launched his voyages of exploration because the Muslim hordes had overrun all the land routes to trade with India and China. When they took control of Constantinople in 1453, they left Europe no choice but to find a highway through the seas. Columbus was Europe’s pathfinder. So if you need someone to blame for Columbus, look no further than the followers of Muhammad.
The United States has been the greatest force for good in the history of civilization, from creating the finest system of government ever devised, defeating tyranny in 1776 and again in 1945, and abolishing slavery in 1865. The U.S. has shown the world the way in religious liberty, political freedom, education, science, medicine, and business. We have sent more missionaries bearing the light of the gospel to more darkened corners of the world than the rest of the nations in human history combined.
Christopher Columbus made all of this possible. As President Trump said in his Columbus Day proclamation, Columbus’ discovery of America “was a transformative event that undeniably and fundamentally changed the course of human history and set the stage for the development of our great Nation.”
No Christopher Columbus, no United States of America. In truth, every day ought to be Columbus Day.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Northwest Connection.)