Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Did he plagiarize or didn't he?

I was fired for supposedly plagiarizing this piece, did I? You decide.

The following appeared on Capitalism Magazine
Did Christopher Columbus "Discover" America?
by Michael Berliner (October 10, 2002)

[www.CapitalismMagazine.com] Columbus Day approaches and this year has a special meaning. Christopher Columbus is a carrier of Western Civilization and the very values attacked by terrorists on September 11. To the "politically correct," Columbus Day is an occasion to be mourned. They have mourned, they have attacked, and they have intimidated schools across the country into replacing Columbus Day celebrations with "ethnic diversity" days.

The politically correct view is that Columbus did not discover America, because people had lived here for thousands of years. Worse yet, it's claimed, the main legacy of Columbus is death and destruction. Columbus is routinely vilified as a symbol of slavery and genocide, and the celebration of his arrival likened to a celebration of Hitler and the Holocaust. The attacks on Columbus are ominous, because the actual target is Western civilization.

Did Columbus "discover" America? Yes--in every important respect. This does not mean that no human eye had been cast on America before Columbus arrived. It does mean that Columbus brought America to the attention of the civilized world, i.e., to the growing, scientific civilizations of Western Europe. The result, ultimately, was the United States of America. It was Columbus' discovery for Western Europe that led to the influx of ideas and people on which this nation was founded--and on which it still rests. The opening of America brought the ideas and achievements of Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, and the thousands of thinkers, writers, and inventors who followed.

Prior to 1492, what is now the United States was sparsely inhabited, unused, and undeveloped. The inhabitants were primarily hunter-gatherers, wandering across the land, living from hand-to-mouth and from day-to-day. There was virtually no change, no growth for thousands of years. With rare exception, life was nasty, brutish, and short: there was no wheel, no written language, no division of labor, little agriculture and scant permanent settlement; but there were endless, bloody wars. Whatever the problems it brought, the vilified Western culture also brought enormous, undreamed-of benefits, without which most of today's Indians would be infinitely poorer or not even alive.

Columbus should be honored, for in so doing, we honor Western civilization. But the critics do not want to bestow such honor, because their real goal is to denigrate the values of Western civilization and to glorify the primitivism, mysticism, and collectivism embodied in the tribal cultures of American Indians. They decry the glorification of the West as "cultural imperialism" and "Eurocentrism." We should, they claim, replace our reverence for Western civilization with multi-culturalism, which regards all cultures (including vicious tyrannies) as morally equal. In fact, they aren't. Some cultures are better than others: a free society is better than slavery; reason is better than brute force as a way to deal with other men; productivity is better than stagnation. In fact, Western civilization stands for man at his best. It stands for the values that make human life possible: reason, science, self-reliance, individualism, ambition, productive achievement. The values of Western civilization are values for all men; they cut across gender, ethnicity, and geography. We should honor Western civilization not for the ethnocentric reason that some of us happen to have European ancestors but because it is the objectively superior culture.

Underlying the political collectivism of the anti-Columbus crowd is a racist view of human nature. They claim that one's identity is primarily ethnic: if one thinks his ancestors were good, he will supposedly feel good about himself; if he thinks his ancestors were bad, he will supposedly feel self-loathing. But it doesn't work; the achievements or failures of one's ancestors are monumentally irrelevant to one's actual worth as a person. Only the lack of a sense of self leads one to look to others to provide what passes for a sense of identity. Neither the deeds nor misdeeds of others are his own; he can take neither credit nor blame for what someone else chose to do. There are no racial achievements or racial failures, only individual achievements and individual failures. One cannot inherit moral worth or moral vice. "Self-esteem through others" is a self-contradiction.

Thus the sham of "preserving one's heritage" as a rational life goal. Thus the cruel hoax of "multicultural education" as an antidote to racism: it will continue to create more racism. Individualism is the only alternative to the racism of political correctness. We must recognize that everyone is a sovereign entity, with the power of choice and independent judgment. That is the ultimate value of Western civilization, and it should be proudly proclaimed.

This is my article

Thank You Christopher Columbus
Alexander Marriott 9/20/2003

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.


Anonymous said...

you're an elitist idiot. The fact that we fucked up Europe in no way gave Europeans license to destroy a whole new land. This article is full of contradictions and non sequiturs. It practically made me vomit in disgust.

Alexander said...

Destroy how? Define this destruction. If you mean the people, the vast majority died from diseases they had no prior exposure to, a process which, once begun (and begun unwittingly on the part of all) could not be stopped or reversed. If you mean the land, then the statement is absurd on the face of it. No land was destroyed, it was put to use rationally for the benefit of human survival in ways which the Indians neglected to do for cultural and ideological reasons for millennia.

Also, what contradictions and non sequitors? After recovering from your indigestion, you might have specified more precisely your exact quibbles and problems rather than just alluding to them vaguely.

Anonymous said...

Alexander Marriott is currently a graduate student of the early republic at Clark University in Worcester, MA. He earned his B.A. in history in 2004 from the University of Nevada - Las Vegas, where he was an Op-Ed columnist for the UNLV Rebel Yell. Marriott grew up in Chicago and lived in Saudi Arabia for four and a half years and has resided in Las Vegas since 1996.

Anonymous said...

Funny that you had to apologize Alexander for your piece of poor unrefined writing without scholastic sources to back it up. So are you surprised people compared your writing to Hitler, as being sympthatic to fascism and hate? Do not be because what you stated is what you intended. "NO THANK YOU ALEXANDER, WE ARE AMERICAN WITH AMERICAN VALUES BUT! CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS WAS A 16TH HITLER FIGURE." Columbus was an ungodly man Alexander. Read up on Christianity dear (assuming you are one). As a historian, you know nothing of the contributions of the greatest American Indian civilizations, lest you know nothing of Western European civilization. YOUR writing on this piece of unscholarly work PRIMITIVE.

You are disgusting and this blog needs to be shut down.

Anonymous said...


Here's what you wrote Alex. Here was your insufficient apology.

Now read this,

"How much damage, how many calamities, disruptions and devastations of kingdoms have there been? How many souls have perished in the West Indies over the years and how unjustly? How many unforgivable sins have been committed? ...... What we committed in the West Indies stands out among the most unpardonable offenses ever committed against God and mankind...." 1)
-Bartolome de Las Casas- Spanish priest, historian, and compatriot of Christopher Columbus

Anonymous said...

Continue reading Alex boy

King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were in many ways typical of the monarchs of medieval Europe, brutal, dictatorial and oppressive. They ruled over a kingdom that tortured, killed and expelled Jews and Muslims.
So confident in their right to dictate to others on how to live that upon hearing Columbus' reports of the habit of daily bathing by the Taino People, Queen Isabella issued a command to these new subjects that read, "They are not to bathe as frequently as hitherto." 1) Queen Isabella, having proudly boasted that she had only bathed twice in her life, once on the day of her birth and again on the day of her marriage, felt daily bathing to be excessive and decadent.

Science, archeology, history and literature and centuries-old archives poiint out that, oh, some American Indian Civilizations were far more advanced in those aforementioned. Western Europe can "thank" the Roman Catholic Church for its civilization, Alexander. You didn't graduate from a prestigious graduate school, did you?

Anonymous said...

Clearly the quintessential rantings of an ignoramus. You really need to learn a few things about the Mesoamerican civilizations before you go about debunking them.