Columbus the Great

It’s all the liberal rage these days. Pick out a figure from the annals of Western Civilization – particularly one renowned for his or her contribution to its greatness or, better yet, to the greatness of the pre-Obama United States – set up an icon of that figure in a literal shooting gallery and then riddle it so full of bullet holes it’s no longer recognizable to anyone capable of cracking open a pre-Obama history book. In this case, appropriately enough for today, the target is Colombo – no, not the TV detective, but the intrepid Italian explorer we know today as Christopher Columbus.

If you can stomach the tripe spooned out in this ridiculous and historically retarded video, read on below for the antidote.

Amazingly, very little is known about Christopher Columbus and I’m not going to bore you with details of his biography except to say that he was a remarkable man who lived in a remarkable age, when the full flower of human genius was blooming in Europe even as the once great empire of China – where human ingenuity reached its zenith at that date – was closing in upon itself to emerge, four centuries, later a hopelessly backward and technologically inept culture whose progress was further arrested by an additional seventy years of communism. Even now there is nothing the Chinese can do – aside, perhaps, from Peking Duck – that Europeans and especially Americans cannot do infinitely better and with greater (if now rapidly diminishing) freedom or prodigious results.

It all began in the European Renaissance – and Columbus was among its poster children. Let us note that in late 15th century every educated person knew the earth was round. Only a simpleton or a fool believed it was flat – although to this day, strangely enough, there is such a thing as the Flat Earth Society.

The great dispute of the day did not involve the shape of the earth so much as its size. There were some who believed the planet to be much smaller than it actually is. Others believed it to be much larger. There was also considerable dispute regarding what lay to the west of Finis Terra in what was once known as the Roman province of Lusitania.

By the late 15th Century the ever-inquisitive Portuguese had become the masters of maritime exploration.

From the early fifteenth century, the nautical school of Henry the Navigator had been extending Portuguese knowledge of the African coastline. From the 1460s, the goal had become one of rounding that continent’s southern extremity to gain easier access to the riches of India (mainly black pepper and other spices) through a reliable sea route.

The Republic of Venice had gained control over much of the trade routes between Europe and Asia. Portugal hoped to use the route pioneered by Bartolomeu Dias to break the Venetian trading monopoly.

By the time Gama was ten years old, these long-term plans were coming to fruition. Bartolomeu Dias had returned from rounding the Cape of Good Hope, having explored as far as the Fish River (Rio do Infante) in modern-day South Africa and having verified that the unknown coast stretched away to the northeast.

There could be no doubt: the Portuguese understood exploration better than anyone on the planet and it was they who Columbus first approached regarding a westward passage across the Atlantic – to China and India.

The Portuguese did what any thinking people at the time would have done: they laughed at him. For starters, his maps were ridiculously out of proportion because they were based on a model of the earth much smaller than that which the best minds in the world had calculated.

There is no way in Heaven or Hell you can succeed,” they likely explained, “because the expanse of ocean between here and there is too great. You and your crew would perish halfway to your destination because there is no ship big enough to carry the provisions you would need for such a voyage.

Were it not for the existence of the North and South American continents, they would have been entirely correct. But no one – not even Columbus – knew that at the time and the Genovese explorer was sent packing.

Columbus would not take “no” for an answer and he approached the Spanish (with whom the Portuguese had a bitter rivalry since the 11th Century, when Dom Henrique Alfonse won Portugal’s independence from Spain). Unlike the Portuguese, the Spanish – in the person of Isabella La Catolica – were more easily persuaded (beguiled, actually) and Columbus was finally given command of three little vessels with which he would traverse the ocean blue in an effort to reach the Orient.

Little did he know, the land he spotted in October of 1492 wasn’t China or India. By dint of sheer, dumb luck Columbus had discovered a new continent between Europe and the Orient – one the greatest minds of the day never imagined would be there…one that would later be called America.

Alas, this isn’t what school children are taught today. As the above video painfully demonstrates, they are instructed that Columbus came as a conqueror for the purpose of enslaving the peaceful native population in order to better extract gold, silver and other mineral riches from their land. They are taught that he was an overbearing, arrogant, tyrannical man with as little regard for the welfare of his own crews as he had for the aboriginal American populations he helped to decimate by spreading smallpox, syphilis and other diseases against which the poor innocents had no natural immunity.

They are taught that Columbus could not possibly have discovered America because (a) Leif Erickson reached the New World much earlier and (b) the indigenous population was already there and so, by definition, they discovered it first. In effect, Columbus and Renaissance Europe become proxies for the Pre-Obama United States and Eurocentric civilization, enabling self-loathing liberals to continue the assault on their parents or other authority figures that began at some point in their distant and obviously very troubled pasts.

Now for the facts: Christopher Columbus was no more or less human than anyone else. I’m sure there were moments when people wanted to throttle him just as there are moments when they wanted to embrace him. He was a product of his age – something liberal critics ever and always fail to comprehend because liberals understand neither human nature nor the historical past and are forever locked into a present that is continually being redefined and rewritten on the basis of ideology and not empirical reality.

Did Columbus practice slavery in the New World? Yup. Did he persecute indigenous peoples? Most likely. But then, so did every society on the planet – including the indigenous “innocents” so beatified by today’s liberals. Sure, these people were there before Columbus arrived – but they were savages.

There…I said it: they were real-world savages, living in the Stone Age. They were anything but the innocent, peaceful, Edenic “noble savages” about whom Rousseau endlessly fantasized. They continually made war upon – and often cannibalized – each other (see: Mayan and Aztec empires and watch Apocalypto). They had no real constitution of civil government because they had no concept of civilization. Their existence was more correctly summed up by Thomas Hobbes than it was by Jean Jacques Rousseau: life in their world was vicious, nasty, brutish and usually very short.

In the thousands of years that humans spread out into the North and South American continents – becoming ethnically and culturally diverse – they did what humans have done since the dawn of human consciousness: they either conquered others or were conquered by others. “Peace” for these people was nothing more than an operational pause of indeterminate duration between wars of conquest. Unfortunately for them, the Europeans were technologically superior – and when it comes to wars of conquest, technological superiority always prevails.

There was also the matter of disease – which the Europeans themselves didn’t fully understand, as  the microscope and the petri dish had yet to be developed. In those days the best physicians in the world were hopelessly ill-informed and uninformed – even by 17th century standards. Needless to say, the concept of biological immunity – only vaguely understood by Edward Jenner in the late 1700s – was unknown in the late 15th Century. It was a tragedy that pathogens regarded as nuisances by the Europeans became deadly plagues to the indigenous American population, but this was never the intention of the European explorers or colonists and I have yet to find a shred of historical evidence to support such a ludicrous assertion.

Sure, the Europeans inadvertently infected the aboriginal Americans with smallpox and a host of other pathogens, but the aboriginals returned the favor and gave Europe the gift of syphilis. Yes, that is correct: syphilis came from the New World. A century later, aboriginal Americans in North America gave the English the gift of tobacco. We all know how well that turned out: given the number of non-aboriginal Americans since then who perished from the effects of smoking or chewing tobacco, I’m pretty sure the score has been settled many times over.

What made Columbus a great man and his discovery worthy of celebration is the fact that he opened up a new world for exploration and colonization – a new world that would eventually give rise to the United States – a beacon of liberty and prosperity and the greatest nation in the history of mankind.

For that, more than anything else, conservatives will forever thank Christopher Columbus while liberals will forever condemn him.

And now for the moment of triumph: Columbus and his crew set eyes upon the New World (more precisely, Guanahani Island in the Bahamas).

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One Response to Columbus the Great

  1. Kurt Epps says:

    Excellent piece, Gene. In much the same way, our youth has been taught that America invented –if not perfected–slavery, and that only blacks were slaves. As a descendant of American Indian slaves who took the name of their owner, I resent such canards.