Let’s Continue to Celebrate Columbus
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
More than 50 of our nation’s local governments cancelled Columbus Day celebrations. This is obviously part of the ongoing war against our nation’s culture, an insult directed at the memory of Christopher Columbus that strongly indicates which side is winning this war. It isn’t the side that brought Christian values and practices to the Western Hemisphere.
In place of celebrating – or at least acknowledging Columbus and his contribution to the Americas – the cultural iconoclasts have convinced some authorities to celebrate “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” Therefore, we should take a hard look at what Columbus and his men found when they landed in the new world. The courageous Italian sailor and navigator never set foot on what became the United States. In each of his four voyages to the West, he landed in areas south of what became our nation, mostly in what is now known as the West Indies.
Throughout the area populated by the “indigenous people” in the late 15th century could be found headhunting, torture, cannibalism, human sacrifice to false gods, barbarous treatment accorded to war prisoners, mutilation of fellow man, sacrificing infants, and more. Is all or even some of this what today’s culture warriors seek to celebrate?
Columbus wasn’t a perfect individual and he never claimed perfection for himself. One of his goals in making four dangerous voyages across the Atlantic sought to bring Christian civilization to whomever he encountered. He succeeded in that pursuit though only partially. Other like-minded explorers, emboldened by his findings, piled up numerous successes as they spread Christianity throughout the West. Yes, there were instances of criminal activity perpetrated on natives, but these were not the norm. Further, some common practices in the Columbian era such as slavery were practiced by Columbus.
Today, there is the state capital of Columbus, Ohio. The state of Georgia has a city named after Columbus. South Carolina’s capital Columbia is named after the Genoese sailor. There is a Columbia University in New York City. And there are numerous other places and institutions whose names can be traced to the man whose voyages proved there was a whole new world west of Europe. Do the culture warriors intend to change or remove them?
Columbus persuaded Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain to finance his voyages. It was they who encouraged him to spread Catholicism in the lands he discovered. Being militant Catholics, Isabella and Ferdinand would never tolerate the practices commonly found among the indigenous peoples encountered by Columbus. That the two Spanish leaders would provide the ambitious navigator with funding for his several voyages meant that they found him to be neither a scoundrel nor a hopeless dreamer.
It was never a mistake for our country to honor Columbus. Tearing into his name and reputation causes this writer to ask what will come next. What Columbus and successor explorers generally found was customarily condemnable. It deserved to be replaced. Darkness began to give way to light. Reverting back to the darkness practiced by many of the indigenous peoples would certainly be a terrible mistake. Americans of today should keep such a travesty from occurring, or even from being celebrated.
Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.
Political Correctness Gone Amuck
by JBS President John F. McManus
Any mention of persecuting Christians spurs thoughts of the crimes of Nero or Diocletian or one of the other Roman emperors. In portions of today’s world, murdering or persecuting those who won’t budge from their religious beliefs has again become common.
In the early years of the 20th century, Christians made up 14 percent of what is generally referred to as the Middle East. Today, they number only four percent. There were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq in 2003, mostly Catholics. Today, more than a million have either fled or been killed. Even in Israel where Christ lived and died, the number has shrunk dramatically. In Egypt, Coptic Christians who formerly were left alone to enjoy freedom are being targeted. They live uneasily under the new government and the rise of Muslim Brotherhood power. Elsewhere, non-Christian Yazidis have been brutalized for their beliefs.What about America? Christians themselves aren’t being physically abused but their beliefs are under attack. In a Boston suburb, a man applied for a job at Catholic Fontbonne Academy. During a July interview, he matter-of-factly responded affirmatively to the requirement that all school employees were expected to be “ministers of the mission.” The mission, of course, was to uphold Catholic values and beliefs. Having assented to that rule and other requirements, he was given the job.
Later that same day, this man listed his “husband” as an emergency contact. Within days, he was told that he could not be hired because his relationship with a male partner was incompatible with Catholic beliefs and principles. With lawyers supplied by the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, he sued Fontbonne claiming that he was being denied the job because of his sexual orientation and had suffered harm as a result.
The case went to court and Superior Court Associate Justice Douglas Wilkins ruled that the school violated a Massachusetts anti-discrimination law. Judge Wilkins stated that the school was not exempt from the law because it was a religious institution, and that it had no constitutional protections regarding the matter.
The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts protested on the basis of religious liberty found in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Even more, the League pointed to the Massachusetts Constitution that guarantees not only freedom to worship as one chooses, but also affirms the right of religious institutions to govern their internal affairs free of state interference.
Catholic Action League Director C. J. Doyle noted that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas had stated in his dissent in the Obergefell decision that the high court’s approval of same gender marriage would have “potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.” Doyle also pointed to the “charade-like character” of the religious exemption to the Massachusetts gay rights law. An appeal is expected.
Forcing a Catholic institution in America to hire a man who admits to holding views that openly mock Catholic principles is certainly not the equivalent of what has transpired for Christians in Roman times or in today’s Middle East. But Catholics can wonder if their rights and those of others will be further eroded in the coming days and years. Will the nearly insane political correctness already sweeping through America lead to physical violence? Or will America turn back to the sanity and good will that marked the nation a mere 50 years ago? Time will tell.
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Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.