A culture battle we will not yield
Of all their sins, progressive insistence on revisionism and transposing modern day mores onto history is one of the worst. The anti-history movement is a scourge on our culture and intellectual heritage.
When I was a kid we spent this time of year learning about the great explorers, sitting on the graveled blacktop squashed against one another inside chalked drawings of the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. They were much smaller ships than I’d imagined.
Mere years later and Columbus Day is an annual mini-culture war. Leftists insist Columbus is heroes greatest villain. As is their standard policy, everyone must be remembered not for their greatest achievements, but for their biggest flaw.
The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles dedicated his entire show today to Christopher Columbus and rightly argues that Columbus has the ability to extract so much vitriol from progressive anti-history types because he embodies western civilization. Once championed by progressive intellectuals, western culture is now responsible for everything wrong with humanity, so we’re told.
When thinking of pre-Columbian America, forget what you’ve seen in the Disney movies. Think “slavery, cannibalism and mass human sacrifice.” From the Aztecs to the Iroquois, that was life among the indigenous peoples before Columbus arrived.
For all the talk from the angry and indigenous about European slavery, it turns out that pre-Columbian America was virtually one huge slave camp. According to “Slavery and Native Americans in British North America and the United States: 1600 to 1865,” by Tony Seybert, “Most Native American tribal groups practiced some form of slavery before the European introduction of African slavery into North America.”
“Enslaved warriors sometimes endured mutilation or torture that could end in death as part of a grief ritual for relatives slain in battle. Some Indians cut off one foot of their captives to keep them from running away.”
Things changed when the Europeans arrived, however: “Indians found that British settlers… eagerly purchased or captured Indians to use as forced labor. More and more, Indians began selling war captives to whites.”
That’s right: Pocahontas and her pals were slave traders. If you were an Indian lucky enough to be sold to a European slave master, that turned out to be a good thing, relatively speaking. At least you didn’t end up in a scene from “Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom.”
Facts and things though.
Columbus’ motivations have been largely mischaracterized and lost in the discussion is his dedication to spreading Christianity to newly found lands. The Daily Signal writes:
The truth is that Columbus set out for the New World thinking he would spread Christianity to regions where it didn’t exist. While Columbus, and certainly his Spanish benefactors, had an interest in the goods and gold he could return from what they thought would be Asia, the explorer’s primary motivation was religious.
“This conviction that God destined him to be an instrument for spreading the faith was far more potent than the desire to win glory, wealth, and worldly honors,” wrote historian Samuel Eliot Morison over a half-century ago.
In fact, as contemporary historian Carol Delaney noted, even the money Columbus sought was primarily dedicated to religious purposes. Delaney said in an interview with the Catholic fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus:
Everybody knows that Columbus was trying to find gold, but they don’t know what the gold was for: to fund a crusade to take Jerusalem back from the Muslims before the end of the world. A lot of people at the time thought that the apocalypse was coming because of all the signs: the plague, famine, earthquakes, and so forth. And it was believed that before the end, Jerusalem had to be back in Christian hands so that Christ could return in judgment.
Columbus critics don’t just stop at accusing him of greed. One of the biggest allegations against him is that he waged a genocidal war and engaged in acts of cruelty against indigenous people in the Americas.
But historians like Delaney have debunked these claims.
Rather than cruel, Columbus was mostly benign in his interaction with native populations. While deprivations did occur, Columbus was quick to punish those under his command who committed unjust acts against local populations.
“Columbus strictly told the crew not to do things like maraud, or rape, and instead to treat the native people with respect,” Delaney said. “There are many examples in his writings where he gave instructions to this effect. Most of the time when injustices occurred, Columbus wasn’t even there. There were terrible diseases that got communicated to the natives, but he can’t be blamed for that.”
And if you’re in the mood for something a bit more contentious, watch Tucker spar with an anti-historian:
Lastly, I leave you with my favorite Columbus meme. Makes me chuckle every time:
Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekayeDONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.