Let’s Continue to Celebrate Columbus

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.

Portrait of a Man, Said to be Christopher Columbus. Image from Wikimedia Commons, Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art, public domain (PD-US).

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.

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McManus_2Mr. 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.