Opinion: It’s really okay to celebrate Columbus Day

by Peter Heck · Oct 12th, 2020 10:39 am

Last Updated Oct 13th, 2020 at 10:23 pm

Who knew Columbus Day – one of the most exceedingly boring holidays we still observe – would become so controversial? I guess maybe when we take inventory and realize that ours is:

  • A country that has determined schools may celebrate Christmas so long as they do not acknowledge or discuss the origin of the holiday
  • A country that after overcoming its dark history of racial segregation now seeks to segregate the races as a way of progress
  • A country that lionizes the bizarre legacy of a recently-deceased Supreme Court justice who once argued for the abolition of Mother's Day and Father's Day given that they reinforced gender norms

…when we realize that, we shouldn't really be surprised that Christopher Columbus would get the full cancel culture treatment these days. And make no mistake, he's getting it.

Katherine Kimpel calls him a "genocidal rapist," echoing historian Glenn Morris who dubs the Italian-born explorer, "the architect of a policy of genocide that continues to this day."

Continues to this day? Devotion to historical accuracy is not often high on the priority list of those who have an agenda to advance, but this is especially bad.

To be sure, I'm not into deifying iconic figures of the past or looking beyond their faults. It's not fair to them or us.

But I also don't think much is to be gained by holding them to an enlightened standard of morality that is the ethical epitome of Monday morning quarterbacking, nor is there in the now-common practice of attributing malevolent motivations that meet a modern cultural narrative in the absence of real, historical evidence.

For instance, it may be fashionable these days to tag Columbus a racist, but there is simply no evidence that the man believed the Indians he first encountered were racially inferior. His own journal bears evidence of the opposite, containing passages describing how attractive, how honest, sincere, and generous they were.

Columbus's naiveté is unquestionably shattered on his second voyage, when he had to face the tragic realization that the Arawak natives had apparently killed and cannibalized the sailors he'd left behind. White European or not, that kind of experience will recalibrate your perspective.

Further, those very kind of barbaric practices among the Indians further clarifies the supposedly perplexing question of just how a few hundred Europeans managed to conquer Indian civilizations that totaled in the hundreds of thousands. After all, no matter how racist, crazed, or colonizing they may have been, no group of sailors armed with slow-loading rifles could have ever hoped to overcome such numerical odds. So what gives?

First, the Indians were still living in a mythical spirit world, not only foolishly mistaking their rivals as gods, but also seeking to reverse battlefield losses by sacrificing their bravest warriors to the totems. The Europeans didn't do anything so effectively counterproductive.

Second, after watching their own children being sacrificed as burnt offerings and then eaten, countless neighboring Indian tribes allied themselves with the Europeans to wipe out their savage oppressors once for all.

But since this historical reality conflicts with the multiculturalist tale of premeditated European domination, the truth of primitive and bloodthirsty Indians is expunged from the texts, sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.

Meanwhile, the greatest irony of these condemnations of European theft and abuse, is that in order to indict men like Columbus, modern day history revisionists are necessarily relying on a doctrine of private property rights and ethics that is distinctly European. In other words, the woke unwittingly depend on the superiority of the European moral value system in order to morally condemn the superiority of the Europeans. Oops.

Had Columbus never arrived on our shores, our cultural foundations would have been those of medicine men, witch doctors, and cannibalism – not cultural diversity and academic inquiry.

Is that really something we can't acknowledge, appreciate, and – dare I say – celebrate?

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