A few thoughts on Columbus Day

We need to have clear eyes about the efforts to cancel Columbus Day and see the real agenda behind it. We also need to stop pretending that everything is black and white. Humanity is filled with people who are flawed and complex. People are capable of great things, and capable of the most base wickedness. We often see both from the same person, and Christopher Columbus is an example of that.

Christopher Columbus was obviously not a paragon of virtue. He was brutal against indigenous tribes, and his colonization set the stage for some very bad treatment of indigenous peoples. However, we should not pretend that the native tribes were not brutal toward each other, because they most certainly were. The savage brutality of the Aztec Empire, including human sacrifice, is well documented.

It is also unfair to blame Columbus for everything that followed his trip across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, especially things that happened long after Columbus was dead. Columbus may have behaved sinfully, but the actions of later colonizers were not something under his control.

One of the lines of attack on Columbus is what he did was really not all that impressive. This is absurd. Yes, there were other explorers before Columbus, and it is true that he did not realize he had landed on a “new” continent. But traveling across the ocean in a wind-powered ship with no modern technology to guide him is a monumental feat of courage, determination and ingenuity – something few today could accomplish. We can admire his accomplishments without excusing his immorality.

Locally, if we are going to cancel Columbus Day, then let’s actually cancel Columbus Day. Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton announced after he was elected that the city would no longer recognize Columbus Day, but city government was still closed on Columbus Day. If the mayor actually believed what he says, city offices would have been open on October 12, but they were not. The hypocrisy is obvious.

Finally, we need to be clear about the real agenda here. This is not about the actions of Christopher Columbus. This is really about undermining Western culture. Columbus is simply the low-hanging fruit. This movement, like the fiction that the true founding of the United States was when slaves arrived in the Western Hemisphere, is meant to morally delegitimize the United States.

The fact is that this nation has brought unprecedented freedom and prosperity to the world. Have we done it poorly at times? Yes. Have we committed gravely immoral acts? Yes. History is complicated, and even “the good guys” are capable of terrible wickedness. But the USA has been a force for good and we must defend that principle and defend our civilization. That includes resisting the efforts to destroy Columbus Day.