Christopher Columbus – An Historical Figure

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I think Columbus Day is legit, and should remain as-is. Sadly, on this day over the past few years I’ve read with great interest a number of pieces about Christopher Columbus. Until this year I had not read A SINGLE ONE that had anything good to say about him.  However, Michael J. Knowles of The Daily Wire has an excellent piece, replete with numerous historical citations: http://www.dailywire.com/news/21968/historical-record-shows-christopher-columbus-michael-j-knowles It is well-researched and worth the read. However, the rest of the Columbus “lessons” in the media are not so kind, and suffice to say are considerably more emotionally-charged than fact-based. Funny how that seems to be more and more the case when the media has an agenda.

The most mild characterization of Christopher Columbus was that he was “lost,” which in and of itself is interesting since he was sailing uncharted seas. The most severe likened him to Adolph Hitler.  Though I am not a Columbus defender, I am unaware of any historical evidence that points to him deliberately and systematically leading concerted efforts to exterminate an entire category of human beings.  I think it is at least fair to say that he was an adventurer, a risk-taker, an explorer, but in our culture those are typically positive attributes, and as a result nobody mentions them.

A recurrent theme promoted by most of the complicit media is that we should do away with Columbus Day.  There are also movements to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day.  Personally, if I were a member of the indigenous people race (provided of course we can agree on exactly WHO were the very first to get here, and also agree on just where “here” is), I would want an entirely different day.  Nobody wants a hand-me-down Holiday, anymore than they want hand-me-down underclothes.

So it would seem that every October for the foreseeable future, we are going to examine not only should we celebrate Columbus Day (if in fact taking a weekday break from personal banking and receiving mail qualifies as “celebrating”), but should we recognize or even have a Columbus Day.  Personally, I really don’t think the good citizens of Genoa, Italy care much either way.

However, at the risk of being regarded as, at the very least, politically incorrect, and at worst, culturally insensitive and even shamefully racist, I firmly believe that if we as a society do in fact choose to move in a direction to rid ourselves of any recognition of Columbus Day, then let’s be sure we examine ALL of the pertinent evidence in order to be historically thorough and honest.

While the “Indigenous” people were, in many respects very different from the people from Europe and elsewhere, they were also much like humans everywhere.  There is substantial and irrefutable historical evidence that tribes waged war upon each other.  They attacked strangers without warning, and often viewed any form of mercy with contempt.  They killed and enslaved those they believed to be lesser-than.  Warring tribes killed enemy tribes’ women and children.

In other words, in addition to embodying numerous admirable traits, they too were human, and not without their own set of behaviors that so many today decry as reprehensible and inexcusable.  Make no mistake, there was indeed a significant amount of despicable behavior and violence present on this continent long before the arrival of the “white man.”

There is almost always some value, and perhaps even on occasion, honor in recognizing all of the history and cultures that have been part of creating what we now all call home, provided we do so in an intellectually honest manner.  Virtually every culture has admirable traits which we all might benefit from embracing, just as all cultures have their less-than-desirable elements.  We can learn from each, embracing and discarding accordingly.  But let’s not embark on any initiative under the premise that ANY culture (Indigenous or otherwise) is entirely superior to any other, anymore than ANY culture (Columbus-era or otherwise) should be ignored or abandoned simply because it makes some of us “feel” better.

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Author: David Wilson

Born and raised in Flint, David Wilson now lives in Traverse City. He is a very proud husband of Shari, father of Kyle & Danielle, rider of Gitane and Specialized bicycles, Flint Northern Viking, and double-alumnus Michigan State University Spartan.