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Columbus Day: Fact or Myth?

If you want to get a reaction from someone educated in public institutions recently, just ask if they celebrate Columbus Day. Get ready for eye rolling and smirks.

I was educated before revisionist history got as far off the ground as it is today. So, in planning to write a blog about Columbus Day, I did research to recall what I had forgotten. What I found was disturbing. The things historians write about Columbus these days isn’t what we learned in school back when our pet dinosaurs were tied outside the school building.

We were taught Columbus was a hero, a master mariner, advanced in scientific and astrological skill, exceeding those of his time. He went to sea at an early age. However, we were taught also (and here is where revisionists got their feet in the door) that Columbus was motivated by seeking gold.

Well, that’s true but not the way we think. Columbus, a Catholic, was disturbed that Jerusalem was taken over by the enemies of Christianity. He DID seek gold, but it was to enable the Church to re-take the Holy City from those he considered enemies of Europe.

He wasn’t looking to pad his pockets; he just wanted to see Jerusalem in the hands of her friends.

In addition to hopes of finding gold, Columbus also hoped to find new trade routes to places that sold spices, since enemies of European nations had closed off overland trade routes.

Did you know Columbus made not one but four trips to the New World? On his first one, when he landed in the Caribbean Islands, he encountered the Taino tribal people, who were gentle and kind and received him well.

It gets interesting after this. On Columbus’ first voyage, he left behind some of his sailors on the islands. Unfortunately, the evil things these men did while waiting for Chris’s return, were atrocious. The men molested the Indian women and spread disease around their island. Columbus was appalled at their behavior when he returned. He did NOT approve.

While exploring on one of his return voyages, Columbus and his men came across a village of 50 houses, all inhabited by women and children. To his horror, they discovered another tribe, the Carib Indians, who were cannibals, had captured the Taino Indian women and established a village for the express purpose of impregnating the enslaved women and raising children who were to be eaten at a later date. Columbus freed these enslaved people.

You read that right. Columbus freed enslaved women and children.

You’ve probably heard also that Columbus tricked the simple, peaceful Indians by snatching their gold. Actually, when he learned the Spaniards were offering handfuls of glass beads for valuable gold, he insisted a fair exchange be made.

You may have heard that Columbus stole land from the Indians. However, this is jerking history out of context. In the 1400s, colonization was common when one country conquered another. That didn’t make it right, but it does explain the common thinking of his time. Columbus was a product of his era.

The Caribbean Islands were not all role models of peaceful, utopian culture, as modern historians assert.

Cannibalism existed before Columbus arrived there. That’s the way primitive people treated those captured in war. So, when Europeans made them slaves instead, they considered that more humanitarian than eating them alive. (Notice, I didn’t say either was right.)

Opponents of Columbus like to capitalize on the fact that he had to return to Spain in chains and give an account of his deeds to the monarchs there. Did you know he was cleared of the charges when he explained his side of the story? And that he was given back all honors except governership? Modern history books omit that little gem.

So, you are free to form your own opinions about Christopher Columbus. He wasn’t perfect, didn’t claim to be. But he opened trade routes (good for economics) and established knowledge about trade winds that could blow a ship back to western Europe. He liberated slaves in the Caribbean, in spite of the damage caused by his sailors. I choose to give credit where it’s due.

One last thought: Are we going to take away ALL the heroes from our children’s history books?

Want more information? Check out Day. Wallbuilders organization was begun years ago, based on the Biblical model of Nehemiah, who supervised the rebuilding of the razed walls of ancient Jerusalem several centuries before Christ. Be prepared to be surprised.

What about you? Any thoughts on what you learned?


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