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If you'd like to know the true story about Christopher Columbus, please read on. But I warn you, it's not for the faint of heart.
Here's the basics. On the second Monday in October each year, we celebrate Columbus Day (this year, it's on October 11th). We teach our school kids a cute little song that goes: "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." It's an American tradition, as American as pizza pie. Or is it? Surprisingly, the true story of Christopher Columbus has very little in common with the myth we all learned in school.
Columbus Day, as we know it in the United States, was invented by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal service organization. Back in the 1930s, they were looking for a Catholic hero as a role-model their kids could look up to. In 1934, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, Congress and President Franklin Roosevelt signed Columbus Day into law as a federal holiday to honor this courageous explorer. Or so we thought.
There are several problems with this. First of all, Columbus wasn't the first European to discover America. As we all know, the Viking, Leif Ericson probably founded a Norse village on Newfoundland some 500 years earlier. So, hat's off to Leif. But if you think about it, the whole concept of discovering America is, well, arrogant. After all, the Native Americans discovered North America about 14,000 years before Columbus was even born! Surprisingly, DNA evidence now suggests that courageous Polynesian adventurers sailed dugout canoes across the Pacific and settled in South America long before the Vikings.
Read the entire story at the huffingtonpost
And of course this article does not include the Moors. They were here too!
Like everything else traditionally American, appreciating Christopher Columbus is a little … unfashionable, these days. But look – let’s give the guy a break:
If you don’t like the fact that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, you can blame the Muslims of the Middle East. Columbus would have stayed home, or gone straight to India and China if he could have. But Muslim domination of the trade routes made that impossible.
Columbus was just trying to find a way to compensate for this Muslim problem. He devised a plan to sail East, across the Atlantic, to approach Asia from the West. But Columbus could not get backing from Portugal or Spain due to their focus on war with the Muslims.
Finally, when the Spanish army captured the last Muslim stronghold in Granada, Columbus got the financing for his audacious voyages, and set sail in the now-famous Santa Maria, with the Pinta and the Niña.
Did Columbus set out to “discover America?” No! He didn’t mean to, but he did it anyway. That’s the point – STUFF HAPPENS. So much in life seems serendipitous. No plan survives contact with reality, by luck, fate or providence.
And yes, I know he hit Hispaniola, Cuba, Venezuela – close enough. Whether you like him, or not – he was as difficult and brutal as the times – Columbus’ fortunes captured the world’s imagination. He ignited a New World of global trade and global transportation.
Now, some people are in a bit of a tizzy about Columbus’ discovery. They blame Columbus for the discovery. To them, Columbus represents the beginning of the end of the Native American way of life.
But here’s the thing: if you’re going to blame Columbus, then you might as well blame Mohammed.
Looking at it this way, via Columbus, Mohammed is responsible for the origin of America as a Judeo-Christian nation. Life is funny that way. So don’t blame Columbus – he was just exploring.
There’s a popular theory going around which infers that, if not for Columbus, America would be a veritable Garden of Eden; a peaceful habitat of Indigenous Peoples – Noble Savages – presiding over pristine forests and roaming herds of buffalo across the fruited plains.
The only problem with that is this – time does not stand still.
You know who would have discovered America? Someone else! These natives would be speaking Japanese or Chinese by now; or German, like Europe probably would be.
Or, they could have been discovered and conquered by African colonists; maybe by slave traders. We could have had slave ships going from America to Africa. Who knows?
Point is, the idea that America would have otherwise been some kind of idyllic paradise is the stuff of dreams.
So let’s not sugar-coat it – that Native American lifestyle was never going to survive, in the long run.
We shouldn’t mourn that Native American lifestyle too much though. It cracks me up how many think it would be so wonderful, so romantic. Fact is, most of them wouldn’t survive that hard life for a week, nor would they want to.
How did the Hohokam, Sobaipuri, Apache and Papago Indians survive along the Posta Quemada Wash through a Tucson summer? Life was hard. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. You go hungry. Your teeth hurt – really hurt – then they fall out. Tribes fight over stuff. You die young, your wife dies young, and your children die young.
People the world over appreciate indigenous cultures. That’s fine. But few really want to live like that. Let’s just keep this in perspective.
Take a little time to appreciate the big picture: how the times led to one man’s accidental discovery; how this discovery opened the door to the New World; how this new world became a shining city on a hill; how America has stood for – and fought for – liberty and justice for all, against Communism and Fascism the world over.
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