Sunday, September 21, 2003

Thank You Christopher Columbus
Alexander Marriott September 21, 2003

Most Columbus Days are marked by rabid condemnations of the explorer as a genocidal maniac bent on destroying the peaceful and innocent native peoples who populated the Caribbean islands which Columbus discovered. These condemnations are not only unwarranted but indicative of the hatred those delivering them have for all that Columbus stood for and brought to the primitive New World.

Two myths regarding Columbus to dispel quickly are 1) that everyone thought the world was flat while he thought it was round and 2) that the legacy of Columbus was one of death and destruction.

Columbus and everyone else who was educated in Europe knew the Earth was round, a fact which had been proven by the Ancient Greeks. What Columbus got wrong was the circumference of the Earth, causing him to think he could sail from Europe to Asia going west, which of course you can, but luckily enough for him the Americas were in his way or he would have ended up starving.

The legacy of Columbus was not death and destruction. Most Indian deaths were caused by the introduction of diseases that the Europeans brought with them unwittingly. It must also be remembered that the Indians living in the Americas were largely primitive Stone Age level savages who advanced virtually very little in the thousands of years they inhabited North and South America. The two built up “civilizations” of the Americas, those of the Incas and the Aztecs, were hardly much better, being built upon irrationality, human sacrifice, and brutal primitivism.

Contrary to the myth of the peaceful natives who Europe unleashed war upon warfare existed in plenty before Columbus arrived and it continued as the Indians clashed with the European explorers and each other.

It’s always asserted that we, like Columbus, stole the land of the Indians. Could Columbus be responsible for stealing anyone’s land, let alone that of the Indians? This seems dubious considering the nomadic nature of many of the peoples he encountered and their lack of any private property or organized settlements. What was there to steal? The land was not in use, evidenced by the pathetic level of any kind of progress, intellectual or material, on the part of nearly all Indian tribes despite thousands of years in lands of great plenty and separated from the other people of the world who could have potentially meddled with them.

So what is the true legacy of Columbus? We are. The Discovery of the New World allowed people to start anew away from the growingly absolutist and mercantilist kingdoms of Europe. As a result the ideas that could not be put into action easily in Europe, those of individual rights, individualism, capitalism, limited republican government, in short all the ideas upon which our country was predicated were allowed to flourish in an environment far away from the Kings and aristocrats of the Old World.

The Indians, forced either to join civilization or cling to their primitive savagery, became as the nomadic barbarians of the Old World. But unlike their Old World counterparts, the ridiculously low development of Indian “civilization” in comparison to that of the Europeans and the later colonists didn’t allow them to have the same devastating effects the Huns, Mongols, Vikings, Vandals, and others had had. As a result their tribal primitivism and mystical world view was supplanted by the budding fruits of human reason which eventually led to the foundation of the American Republic.

Finally, why are the condemnations of Columbus so visceral and continual year after year? We’re told in college that all cultures are equal and that to prefer our culture over any other is ethnocentrism. Of course this is absolutely absurd. If all cultures are equal then why do people move? Or why do people move, predominantly, to prospering societies as opposed to tribal primitive Indian-type societies? The answer is simply that not all societies are equal. Some are, indeed, better than others.

But the goal of such bromides as “All cultures are equal,” is to tear down cultures like ours which are, by every objective standard, far better than the savage primitives out in the middle of forests and oceans who eat other people or sacrifice them to the sun or volcanoes or practice any other such absurdity.

Humans, having the ability to reason, are in a unique position to prosper far more successfully than any other animal. Columbus was the harbinger of reason for the New World which was shockingly devoid of it, a situation which was entirely inexcusable. Similarly, any defense of the pre-Columbus condition is glorifying perpetual irrational primitivism and death while condemning the introduction of reason and the ideas that flowed from it. Columbus is thus cursed when in fact he should be thanked, not only by us, but by the descendents of the Indians who escaped conditions barely better than death that their ancestors experienced millennia after millennia.

Thank you Christopher Columbus.

1 comment:

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