Skip to comments.On Columbus Day, Celebrate Western Civilization, And Not The Cruel Hoax of Multiculturalism
Posted on 10/08/2003 8:20:26 AM PDT by presidio9
Columbus Day this year has a special meaning. Christopher Columbus is a carrier of Western Civilization and the very values attacked by terrorists two years ago 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? Yesin 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 foundedand 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.
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In 1492, as any schoolchild knows, Columbus sailed from Spain with three small ships, searching for a new sea route to the rich countries of India and China. He didnt find India, but he did stumble upon the Americas. On October 12, his flagship, the Santa Maria, ran aground on a reef just off the coast of the island of Hispaniola. The local chief of the Arawaks, the native inhabitants, rescued Columbus's crew and welcomed them warmly, in accordance with their customs.
The Spanish sailors did not share the Arawak custom of sharing and peaceable coexistence. They spied the tiny gold ornaments the Arawaks were sporting and decided that the region was swimming in riches. Columbus also noticed that the locals had no weapons capable of resisting Spanish rule. As historian Howard Zinn documents in A Peoples History of the United States (Harper & Row, 1980), Columbus wrote in his journal, "They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane .... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."
After King Ferdinand granted him governorship of the region, Columbus and his men captured Arawaks by the thousands, forcing them to procure gold. Those who could not produce the required amounts had their hands cut off and were left to bleed to death. Columbus forced the men to work in Spanish gold mines and the women to grow food. Natives who resisted the new rulers were hunted down with dogs and burned alive or hanged.
Soon the Arawaks, their spirits broken, their bodies starved and racked with the diseases brought by the invaders, began ending their own lives to escape the horror. Starving mothers, lacking the milk to nourish their infants, drowned them to prevent a slower death. The killings for sport and punishment, the deaths from disease and malnutrition and the suicides contributed to a rapid decline in the population. Bartolomeo de las Casas, a young priest who assisted Columbus in the conquest of Cuba, writes in his book History of the Indies (reprinted by Harper & Row, 1971) that "from 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery, and the mines. Who in future generations will believe this? I myself writing it as a knowledgeable eyewitness can hardly believe it."
The article doesn't address the main demerit of Columbus, in my mind - his genocide of the Arawak Indians. He didn't have to do that to map the New World.
The article doesn't debunk these charges against Columbus, it appears to avoid them. To quote Rand: "blankout".
I know you know a lot of Spanish history, perhaps you cna help.
Very interesting book. I really enjoyed reading about the strong women of the era.
In English it says "The DMV will be closed Monday, Oct 13, for Columbus Day" then it goes on in Espanol with "...will be closed Monday, Oct 13 por Dia de la Raza". (for the 'Day of the Race').
Nothing racist here.
Thakns for the ping. I'm just checking mail right now. I'll look at the thread this evening.
What world does the author live in?
Thus the sham of "preserving one's heritage" as a rational life goal....
....That is the ultimate value of Western civilization, and it should be proudly proclaimed.
The author does everything he says the Indians should not in this article. They should not be proud of their ancestors but he is, they should not vilify Columbus yet he vilifies Indians, they should not have a racist view yet he clearly does. The man is a hypocrite.
Take a good look at her role in the Spanish Inquisition ("No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!") before you push for that. Many historical figures are complex and are neither wholly good nor wholly bad. The same is often true of modern figures, as well.
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