Editorial by Chad Hobbs
Monday marked Columbus Day. Let us celebrate it. I’m talking to everyone on this, but especially those of you who are 30 words into this editorial and already have hair bristling on the back of your neck right now. Namely, those who want to scream out at me right now that “Its Indigenous Peoples’ Day you jerk!”
First of all, we can’t even celebrate an Indigenous Peoples’ Day in America because we don’t know who the indigenous people of America are. You may scream, "the Native Americans — the Indians — you idiot!" But who are the Native Americans?
You scream follow the science, but I have followed the science. Anthropology is the scientific study of humanity, including past human species. So basically, they are the experts when it comes to humans and human history.
Science says that Native Americans aren’t really indigenous to this continent at all. They migrated here from Asia. The DNA of Native American tribes from the tip of South America all the way north to Alaska show mongoloid descent from Mongolia and Siberia. It turns out that they stumbled upon the Americas from the west much the same way Christopher Columbus did from the east.
Second of all, I get that some bad things happened on this continent during the European conquest, but let us not forget that there was some really bad stuff going on here long before Columbus ever set sail.
There seems to be this revisionist view of the Indians of North and South America in which they were all one, united, pacifist nation, setting around a fire smoking peace pipes in perfect harmony until the pale-faced Europeans showed up and destroyed it all.
When Columbus stumbled into the Caribbean on his voyage, the Native Americans on both American continents were already well versed in enslaving, torturing, conquering and in some cases cannibalizing each other without any European influence.
The Aztec empire didn’t rise out of peace. It rose from brutal conflict and conquest of neighboring tribes that included the enslavement of those who didn’t either die in combat or the ritual human sacrifice of many of their captives. I mean nothing says peaceful like being marched into the Aztec capital after being conquered, led to the top of a temple, having your heart cut out while you were still alive as a sacrifice to the “gods” and then having your corpse kicked back down the stairs as the conquering city erupts in celebration.
The argument that Columbus is responsible of genocide in regards to the Native American population of North and South America is just not true either. When Columbus set sail in 1492, the annihilation of a human race was the last thing on his mind. He was searching for a western sea route to the East Indies in Asia and thought he had found it when his three little ships landed in the present day Dominican Republic — thus why he called the people Indians. There was no genocide.
You may point to the fact that within about 20 years of Columbus first landing in the New World many of those islands he discovered had lost upwards of 95 percent of their population. That is true, but it was not an intentional genocide that led to this. It was disease that decimated the native populations. In 1492, there was no understanding of virology or epidemiology. So, to insinuate that this mass mortality event of the population from disease was intentional is absurd. In fact, most of the disease that ravaged the native population was transmitted from animal vectors such as the horses, cattle and hogs the Spanish brought with them. Look at how deadly the swine and bird flu were in our era of modern medicine.
As far as slavery, I think we can all agree it is a horrendous practice that none of us agree with today. We have to be careful, however, judging history through our enlightened modern views in regards to the ghastly practice. To pick and choose only certain people or countries from the past to persecute over their embracement of slavery is to fail to be honest. There is not a culture, continent or race that hasn’t instituted slavery in the past. The ancient Egyptians and Greeks did. The Roman, Mongolian, Chinese, British, and Spanish empires are just a handfull of those that did. A good portion of the African continent not only did but still does to this day, and as mentioned earlier, the “indigenous” people of North and South America did as well.
History is difficult and often painful, especially when it deals with one group conquering another group. The Romans did terrible things as they conquered their way to becoming one of the largest empires to ever exist. The Aztecs, Incas, Comanche and Sioux were just a few tribes that were ruthless when conquering land. When Britain, France and Spain conquered land in the New World, they were not without flaw either. So, it goes without saying that when the United States conquered both Britain and various native tribes in North America to form the United States that it wasn’t always pretty either. In fact, there were times it was completely abhorrent.
Whether one likes it or not, the land that makes up the United States was not stolen, however. It was conquered. Regardless of how one feels about the flaws and actions that took place during the formation of this country, it ultimately led to the most tolerant, charitable and prosperous nation the world has ever known.
Christopher Columbus was one of the greatest European explorers to ever exist. He had little to nothing to do with the European atrocities that occurred on this continent other than accidentally stumbling upon the New World in search of a western sea route to India.
Furthermore, his Italian descent led to Columbus Day’s inception. The national holiday was first designated a holiday due to the persecution of Italian immigrants in this country. The largest lynching ever to take place in America took place in New Orleans in 1891 with Italian immigrants being the victims of the horrendous murders. The following year in 1892, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage largely in hopes of linking his Italian lineage to the Italian immigrants in hopes of bringing people together.
I’m all for honoring the American Indian tribes, but superimposing an Indigenous People’s Day to whitewash Columbus Day is ridiculous. Columbus never stepped foot in North America. Therefore, the notion he is offensive to North American Indian tribes is nonsensical.
Columbus Day did help end the persecution of Italian immigrants and became a great source of pride for the descendants of those immigrants to this country. The progressive movement to end Columbus Day is highly offensive to those of Italian descent and all the rest of us who understand that the greatest country the world has ever seen would eventually come about indirectly from the voyage he made back in 1492.
What is actually going on with this cancel Columbus Day movement has nothing to do with Columbus and everything to do with teaching our youth to hate everything about Western Civilization.