Killing Columbus: Seeking the "Undiscovery" of America

By Duke, Selwyn | The New American, October 9, 2017 | Go to article overview

Killing Columbus: Seeking the "Undiscovery" of America


Duke, Selwyn, The New American


In the wake of liberal mobs defacing and destroying Confederate statues, the same groups are going after Christopher Columbus, hoping to denigrate his achievements.

That the victors write the history is also true in the wake of culture wars. Unfortunately, when those winners happen to be losers (intellectually and morally), the history they write may be your civilization's last chapter.

Our current cultural revolution, which would do China's Red Guards proud, has again kicked into high gear, with Confederate statues getting the Taliban treatment. Yet much as how forces winning battles and taking territory move on to the next campaign on Conquest Road, today's cultural revolutionaries now have in the cross hairs even Founders such as Thomas Jefferson and the father of our nation, George Washington. Yet under withering direct assault currently is a "softer" target, Christopher Columbus.

In my birthplace, Yonkers, New York, a statue of the Italian explorer was recently vandalized; this was followed by similar incidents in the Big Apple borough of Queens and Manhattan's Central Park. A "community organizer" (no, not Barack Obama)--or, as they used to be called, an agitator--has proposed replacing a Columbus statue in St. Paul, Minnesota, with one of late pop star Prince and one chosen by the "Native Community." Even more significantly, the city council in our country's second-largest metropolis, Los Angeles, voted 14-1 on August 30 to replace Columbus Day with "Indigenous People's Day." If this keeps up, the rhyme we all learned as children will be changed to, "In 1492, Columbus assailed all that was good and true."

But is this true? Who was Christopher Columbus? And, more significantly, what did he accomplish?

Christopher Columbus (Italian: Cristoforo Colombo), the son of a wool merchant, was born in the Republic of Genoa, likely in 1451. His life as an adventurer got off to a fitting start, as History.com explains: "When he was still a teenager, he got a job on a merchant ship. He remained at sea until 1470, when French privateers [legalized pirates] attacked his ship as it sailed north along the Portuguese coast. The boat sank, but the young Columbus floated to shore on a scrap of wood and made his way to Lisbon, where he studied mathematics, astronomy, cartography and navigation. He also began to hatch the plan that would change the world forever."

History.com relates that vision's origin, writing that at "the end of the 15th century, it was nearly impossible to reach Asia from Europe by land." Not only was the route long and arduous, but hostile encounters with the Muslims who controlled it were common. (This was one of the issues that sparked the Crusades earlier in history.) "Portuguese explorers solved this problem by taking to the sea: They sailed south along the West African coast and around the Cape of Good Hope," the site continued. "But Columbus had a different idea: Why not sail west across the Atlantic instead of around the massive African continent?"

Columbus was certainly well-suited for such an endeavor. As geographer and writer Robert Fuson put it, Columbus was probably "one of the best 'dead-reckoning'--that's where you use a compass--... sailors that ever walked the planet." His math, though, at least in this instance, left something to be desired. Columbus estimated the Earth's circumference to be approximately 2,300 miles. (Yes, he, and all educated Europeans, knew the world was round.) This helps explain why he thought he'd reached the East Indies upon landing in the Bahamas.

On this point contemporary nautical experts generally disagreed, adhering "to the (now known to be accurate) second-century B.C. estimate of the Earth's circumference at 25,000 miles, which made the actual distance between the Canary Islands and Japan about 12,200 statute miles," writes Biography.com. Nonetheless, the site further informs, "Despite their disagreement with Columbus on matters of distance, they concurred that a westward voyage from Europe would be an uninterrupted water route. …

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