With protests over the Supreme Court nomination, the midterms, conservatives who dare to speak on college campuses, and the ongoing travesty that Donald Trump won, those still in need of something to protest could settle for Columbus Day, which is Monday.
By elevating Columbus to such a high status, traditional American historians inadvertently painted a target on him for those many years later who elected themselves to undo as much of American history as they could.
The phrase “Columbus discovered America” is glib – he landed on the island of Hispaniola (Haiti), which presaged the Spanish conquest of Latin America, which spurred the colonization-arms race that led British and Dutch settlers to North America, which ultimately led to the founding of the United States. That’s all a bit much for a fourth-grader, so whoever came up with the more concise version knew it was good enough for the time.
But, for many, that time is long past.
Against the deluge of Internet knowledge, conservative institutions can no longer hold a dam against the knowledge that the Western Hemisphere did not become the Americas non-violently. Social Justice Warriors no longer need to wait until college to pollute a young person’s opinions about America, and Columbus is SJW enemy No. 1.
But conservatives have the Internet too.
By modern standards, the Spanish treatment of many natives were not kind – but they saved Mesoamerica from the horrors of empires far worse than their own. When Cortes landed in Mexico a few years after Columbus landed in Haiti, native tribes joined forceswith the Spanish to overthrow the Aztecs, who had been pillaging, raping, and enslaving them for years. Oh yes, and performing so many human sacrifices that they built a literal tower full of human skulls.
To borrow an expression from a former vice president, the Spanish were welcomed as liberators.
College students are taught to demonize the Spanish for converting natives to Catholicism … but not to realize that the Catholic religion saved thousands of Native Americans from the Aztec religion. The Aztecs never made their way up the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, but if they’d ever expanded their empire that far it would have been horrific for native tribes in the American Southwest.
The Western historical tradition has chosen not to dwell on facts like this – notably eschewing words like “savage” – but when it comes to towers of human skulls, what other word applies? And the notion that one society would conquer another was hardly invented in 1492.
The Bantu invaded South Africa hundreds of years before the Dutch had ever heard of it. The Etruscans built up the Roman city state only for Rome to then conquer the rest of Estrucan confederacy. Genghis Khan is not the father of half of Asia because of hisirresistible charm. The Māori wiped out the Moriori before the British conquered New Zealand. King Kamehameha “united” the Hawaiian island through brutal conquest and ritually sacrificing his opponents. Ute Indians dominated the “less fortunate” tribes around them.
Objecting to Columbus Day because it offends multi-cultural sensibilities ignores the reality that the holiday is an ineluctable part of America’s multi-cultural history. America’s English-speaking Protestant majority chose to venerate an Italian Catholic to honor the contributions of Italian Americans to our country. The fundamental problem for those who demonize American history for not being multi-cultural enough is they don’t – or can’t – realize that American history is what created the idea of modern multi-culturalism.
Columbus Day is a testament to America’s long-standing commitment to diversity, a commitment which was not created by SJWs once they got a Twitter account. Rather the principle of diversity was painstakingly forged over hundreds of years of social development. So, yes, glib as it may sound: Columbus discovered America.