Today is Columbus Day in America. For most of our history, the United States considered Columbus a man worthy of admiration. School children were taught about his important discovery of the “New World” – America.
But this strange impulse to discredit European explorers, and the culture in America that grew out of it, is dangerous.
Columbus Day is one of America’s oldest patriotic holidays, first celebrated in the 18th century. It was first celebrated on October 12, 1792, when the New York Society of Tammany honored Columbus on the 300th anniversary of his first voyage. America has more monuments to Columbus than any other nation in the world, the Order of Sons and Daughters of Italy in America reports.
Indiginous Peoples’ Day is part of the latest social justice push to rewrite U.S. history by demonizing explorers, America’s founders, heroic Admirals and Generals, and great politicians from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln, to Theodore Roosevelt.
Columbus “was around 14 years old when he first took to the sea. Over the next two decades, he spent much time aboard various vessels, gaining enormous nautical experience as he sailed the Mediterranean and explored as far north as Britain and possibly Iceland and south along the coastline of West Africa,” history teacher Jeff Minick wrote in the Epoch Times. “Once, he was in a naval battle in which his ship was sunk, forcing him to swim for hours to the shore using a boat’s paddle to remain afloat.”
Many historians compare the importance of Columbus’ discovery of America to astronauts returning to the moon.
But social justice warriors only want students to hear how Columbus brutilized Native Americans, enslaving many.
Recently, the beautiful, historical statue of Columbus and Queen Isabella was removed from the California State Capitol, California Globe reported:
“Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), and Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) named Columbus’ genocidal past as the reason for removal of the Columbus and Queen Isabella statue in a joint statement.”
“Christopher Columbus is a deeply polarizing historical figure given the deadly impact his arrival in this hemisphere had on indigenous populations,” said the Lawmakers. “The continued presence of this statue in California’s Capitol, where it has been since 1883, is completely out of place today. It will be removed.”
The statue, “‘Columbus’ Last Appeal to Queen Isabella,” was gifted to California by gold rush banker Darius Ogden Mills in 1883. It sat almost entirely uninterrupted in the Capitol rotunda since then.
If Columbus had not discovered America, none of us would be here today.
And this is what is wrong with the rewriting of history; it is selective at best, fictional at worst.
Context is the true telling of history. Students need to understand what the world was like during Columbus’s travels in order to hear the history and process it properly.
The arrival of Columbus in 1492 marks the beginning of recorded history in America and opened relations between the Americas and the rest of the world. And it began the massive immigration of Europeans to America.
As OSIA reports, “After Columbus, millions of European immigrants brought their art, music, science, medicine, philosophy and religious principles to America. These contributions have helped shape the United States and include Greek democracy, Roman law, Judeo-Christian ethics and the belief that all men are created equal.”
A historian friend responded to Newsom’s proclamation: “Since Gov. Gavin Newsom declared today as ‘Indigenous Peoples Day’ he wants us to all celebrate California native tribes that held other native Americans as slaves long before European influence. Further, they were highly litigious and held private property as individuals, not the tribe at large.”
Most historians ignore that Native Americans were also slave traders, selling other tribes’ captured Indians to British and European settlers to use as slaves. They brutalized and mutilated their captives, and some tribes were cannibalistic, and ate their captives.
Nearly all cultures throughout the world, in ancient times and current, enslaved other tribes and peoples, going back as far as 6000 B.C. in Mesopotamia… long before Columbus discovered America. That is the truth about slavery.
Notably, America freed the slaves and and declared them “forever free” with the Emancipation Proclimation.
Yet college students believe that America invented slavery – because that is what they are being taught. For many, their entire education about slavery was limited just to America.
Judging historical figures by modern standards is reckless and dangerous. Historical context is part of any sincere, honest and thorough study.
By Gov. Newsom declaring October 12th “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” is an act of rewriting history. American can and does celebrate indigenous peoples, and the governor could have declared another day to honor this rather than support this falsehood.
OSIA correctly concludes: “Columbus Day represents not only the accomplishments and contributions of Italian Americans, but also the indelible spirit of risk, sacrifice and self-reliance of a great Italian icon that defines the United States of America.”