Monday, October 13, 2008

Columbus Day, 2008

Today is when we celebrate Columbus Day in the USA, although much of the world celebrated it yesterday; it is part of the National Day commemoration in Spain, and is celebrated in many Hispanic countries as Día de la Raza.
Columbus Day, of course, commemorates the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, Admiral of the Ocean Sea (1451-1506). Americans are still allowed to remember Columbus, if they choose, but fear not, Columbus Day will no doubt disappear into the liberal memory-hole, or go the way of Washington's Birthday (folded into generic, anonymous, obnoxious "President's Day"), soon enough.
The great sailor's role in the American story was perhaps small, but certainly decisive. Legions of the politically correct despise the memory of Columbus, his voyages and his culture, never mind that many of them walk the streets spouting their nonsense only because the Admiral found San Salvador on 12 October 1492 (although it was clear he was near land on the 11th). The value of a man may often be gauged by the political enemies he has made; and the fact that so many of the Politically Correct dislike Columbus so much is quite enough reason to think that he must have been quite a splendid fellow.
Some say he was born in Genoa, others that he was born in Calvi, Corsica. If the latter, he was probably the most distinguished native of that island save Napoléon I. Son of a weaver, and already a distinguished sailor when he began his American voyage, Columbus hoped to find a practicable route to India, but he did better, and found a new world instead – and his discovery changed everything.
The European discovery of America was the biggest event in western civilization since the fall of Rome, and changed the whole world forever. The future existence of the United States was only one consequence of his voyages; made in barely seaworthy, leaky vessels, with abominable food and mutinous crews.
In recent years, Columbus has suffered from the slanders, slings and arrows of the stupid, the ignorant, and the outright malicious, and all of the other enemies of civilisation who gather under the soiled banners of leftism and “political correctness.” The memory and record of the Admiral are themselves ample defense from the insults of this mob, and Columbus' reputation will survive long after today's philistine lefties have crawled back under their rocks, and back into their midden-pits, to die.
Columbus’ nautical achievements, and the whole colonial experiment, were indubitably worth it. Columbus, and the other heroes of the colonization of the Americas need no special commemoration. If you seek their monuments, look around you. The riches of the Americas, in the short run, enabled Europe to prosper, maintain itself and expand in the face of challenges from Asia and the Islamic world. In the long run, the successful implantation of European colonies in the New World, particularly in North America, ensured that civilization came to these shores, and Europe’s American children, would, in due course, be a credit to all that was good in their parents.
Finally, thanks in some part to Columbus and his sailors, in the Old World’s darkest hour, Europe’s children of the New World were there to step forward to redeem the Old World from bondage and tyranny. No doubt Columbus, who sought a new route to Asia so that Europeans could carry on lawful commerce despite the Muslim blockade and harassment of Europe, would understand and sympathize with the struggles of the American soldiers of today, carrying the banners of America and civilization in Baghdad and Kabul in the struggle against the Islamo-fascist peril.
After Columbus’s initial voyage to America, he made three further trips to these shores, dying two years after the return from his fourth voyage. The authorities still argue whether he is buried in Seville (Spain), or in Santo Domingo. Here's to you Admiral, and to all your officers and sailors, for all you did.


LFC said...

Well... the kindest thing i can say about the tone of this is that it is provocative.
To say that the European discovery of America brought 'civilization' implies that the Native Americans were 'uncivilized', were 'barbarians,' or had no 'civilization'. At the risk of being placed in the box of philistine-left-political-correctness, i would prefer to say that Columbus et al brought the European *version* of 'civilization,' which often included a fair amount of savagery. Columbus was a person of his time, of course, and as far as i'm aware was not in the same category as, say, Cortez, and based on the relatively little i know about Columbus, he is certainly not in the pantheon of devils. But a hagiographic post of this kind is not something i myself would feel comfortable writing, or indeed can read w complete equanimity.
But then the Napoleon worship i also find a little mystifying...

El Jefe Maximo said...

Being a product of the civilization that Columbus made possible does make me a little biased, and apt to approve the European colonization of the Americas. Moreover, as I indicated in my hagiography, the enemies whom the memory of Columbus makes angry raise his already considerable standing in my eyes.

Hernando Cortéz eh? A shocking parade of atrocities indeed, but if I were a king wanting a colonial empire, his ghost would be precisely what I'd send for.

Napoleon. Will argue that one to death anytime you'd like. I generally think the French Revolution was a monstrously wrong turn, but that once it happened he was the approprate ending to an incompetently stupid and venal "republican" regime, and he was applauded for ending it. Most of the wars of the period (mark well that I say most) were not of his doing, but he sure took advantage of them. However, I'd argue that one of his flaws was letting his beaten enemies in (Austria in 1805; Prussia in 1806 and Austria again in 1809 -- who went to war with him, and not vice versa) off too lightly.

True, he was a poor diplomat: Lord Wellington probably had the right of it when he said that the Emperor was "no gentleman." The main difference between Napoleon and Bismarck was that Bismarck was a better diplomat and could thus make his upsetting of the Euro apple-cart stick.

Still, show me a continental ruler of the period who was remotely preferable? Actually, the only one coming close, in my opinion, was Napoleon's successor, Louis XVIII.

El Jefe Maximo said...

Hmmmmm..."his ghost would be precisely what I'd send for." Is a ghost a what, or a who, or a whom?" Oh, never mind.

hank_F_M said...

El Jefe

I seems like a fairm minded post to me. Colmbus day is the day to celebrate th positive things that came, not the footnotes.

And we should not forget that Hernando Cortez landed with a very small force, half of which were equipped with pikes (they would have been right at home with Alexander the Great), the other half had match lock muskets that (when the power was dry) had a slower rate of fire than the bows and arrows of the inhabitants. If the ruling Aztecs had not been grossly cruel and unjust rulers with every one looking for a chance to rebel, he would have been lucky to last a month.

The Spanish rule may not have been up to modern standards but it was better than anything previous for a long time, which is likely had something to do with it lasting 200 years, 300 hundred if you remember the independence movement was primarily dependents of Spanish settlers.

In many ways Napoleon is not one of my favorite people, but your right ending the Republican regime makes up for many faults.

LFC said...

Maybe before I venture into the Napoleon discussion I should go read Pieter Geyl's old book 'Napoleon For and Against.' Not sure I'll find the time for it anytime soon, unfortunately.