Spadea: Stop the ‘Woke’ Mob and Celebrate Columbus Day!
Throughout my public career I’ve spread a consistent message about how important it is to understand context and history that is critically important when it comes to the often vilified hero, Christopher Columbus.
Let’s face it, we know that most of the haters and destroyers in our society are ignorant of the history that they want to wreck. They act on emotion pushing a current political agenda instead of understanding the reason that they have the ability to express and feed themselves is because of the sacrifices of courageous heroes who came before them. Columbus is one of them.
Columbus Day is a day to celebrate and reflect on a great contributor to Western civilization. Yup, the often vilified, largely mischaracterized explorer who discovered the new world. I’ve been saying for years that journalists and academics are so quick to judge historical characters in the context of today’s society instead of the society in which they actually lived and prospered. Columbus is among the most pilloried.
Columbus set sail from Spain on four separate trips to the New World with the first in 1492.
The aggression of the Ottoman Turks dominating the Muslim world changed the course of history. With trade routes essentially blocked and too dangerous for European merchants they were forced to find alternate ways to continue trading in the East.
Enter Columbus searching for that new way.
Of course he ended up in the West Indies and history took an unexpected turn. Protecting the accuracy of history and making sure that great historical figures are put in context of their times is a huge deal for me and should be the focus of today’s education standards. Columbus in particular is the subject of irrational and ignorant attacks from people who think they are speaking for a new ‘woke’ generation.
Not only was Columbus a great man who, in the words of Marx, made capitalism possible, but his courage and determination led to the spread of Western Civilization, which forged the greatest nation on earth. In addition to his incredible historical accomplishments, he became a symbol for Italian Americans in this country to rally around after so many decades of discrimination and hardship adjusting to the new world.
Today’s academics teach about the peace loving nature of the early Americans, glossing over a savage history that when put into context explains a lot about the tension and aggression that took place in the 15th century.
It’s also important to understand that Columbus’ men were wiped out from the first voyage in 1492 as Columbus discovered on his return trip in 1493.
The bottom line is that Columbus did not wipe out the indigenous population as critics claim. He did not pursue genocide against peaceful people. Actually quite the opposite. He made alliances with the indigenous Taino Indians and they fought side by side against the cannibals of the local Carib tribes. What’s even more interesting is that it’s clear that the claims of genocide seems to be largely based on the writings of Bishop Bartolome de las Casas who was a fierce advocate for indigenous tribes. He also had a reputation for exaggeration. His numbers feeding the genocide frenzy also don’t compare with several census counts taken after Columbus departed.
It’s disingenuous and wrong to teach the next generation anything but that actual truth of the events that took place 500 years ago. Beyond the understanding of the balance between civilization and savagery, it’s critical to place the events in historical context instead of judging the actions on both sides in the context of our civilized and relatively peaceful societal norms.
In 1937 Columbus Day was formally recognized as a federal holiday paving the way for the first ‘diverse’ hero of history to be recognized. Again, in the context of even that time, the KKK was aggressively opposed as Columbus was a hero for Italian American Catholics and therefore no different that the Jewish and Black Americans also hated and targeted by the Klan.
Columbus was a man of great courage and strength who decided to overcome those that mocked him for his plan to set sail. The voyages alone would be enough to put him in the history books. But the fact that he set sail and discovered new lands and set the stage for the expansion of Western Civilization is the main reason he is still honored to this day.
The picture painted by the detractors who want to tear down and destroy historical references and statues conveniently leave out the description of the various tribes and cultures that Columbus encountered on his first and subsequent voyages. Some were violent, oppressive and practicing cannibalism.
Beyond the historical facts of what happened when Columbus arrived, there’s what was already happening well before he got there. The detractors conveniently leave out the research that clearly shows the indigenous population in a precipitous decline a long time before Columbus set foot on their soil.
Context is key in every discussion of history. Historical champions who shaped the world we live in were not always pleasant and were definitely flawed. Context of the time, the goals and the philosophy of the historical figure are equally important. In the case of Christopher Columbus, he’s a hero for sure.