Other Opinions

What are we celebrating on Columbus Day?

Mike Fullilove
Mike Fullilove amccoy@sunherald.com

Monday is Columbus Day. Many cities and states will celebrate it, others have denounced Columbus and rather prefer “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” Protests have become so strong against Columbus in some areas that long-standing monuments have been desecrated or destroyed by vandals — Baltimore, New York and Boston.

Columbus Day is a U.S. holiday that commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World on Oct. 12, 1492. It has been celebrated since the late 18th century but was made official by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the behest of the Knights of Columbus in 1937.

Burt Likko of Ordinary Times says, “I think it is fair to say that European civilization exporting itself to the Americas, as is symbolized in celebrating the day Columbus’ expedition made landfall in the Caribbean, it is pretty much the biggest and most important thing that has ever happened in recorded human history.”

“Columbus brought America to the attention of the civilized world, i.e., to the growing scientific civilizations of Western Europe that led to the influx of ideas and people on which this nation is founded,” says Michael Berliner of the Ayn Rand Center.

“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,” continues Berliner.

This politically correct view has been primarily promoted by Howard Zinn whose textbook, “A People’s History of the United States,” used at many colleges across the country, derides Columbus and gives a Marxist historical perspective. Zinn’s writings present the view of history based on the struggles of the “oppressed peoples” — Native Americans, slaves, unionists, women and African-Americans.

Most historians say Columbus was certainly no saint but that the truth falls somewhere in the middle, saying that Columbus was a product of his times and that an advanced civilization seeking riches and new lands undoubtedly took advantage of the natives, often cruelly enslaving them.

But Berliner says, “The attacks on Columbus are ominous because the actual target is Western civilization.” Berliner rebuts the multiculturalism taught today that says all cultures are morally equivalent. “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.

“Western civilization stands for values that make human life possible; reason, science, self-reliance, individualism, ambition, productive achievement — values that cut across gender, ethnicity, and geography.” Opposition to Western civilization also comes from those who detest Christianity and its dominant influence in Western culture.

In President Donald Trump’s speech in Poland recently, he gave a defense of western civilization saying, “We write symphonies, we reward brilliance, we strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art that honor God. We treasure the rule of law and protect the rights to free speech and free expression.

“We empower women as pillars of our society and of our success. We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives. And we debate everything, we challenge everything, we seek to know everything, so that we can better know ourselves.”

President Trump said Western civilization is worth saving and if we don’t, it will be a detriment to the world. On Columbus Day, let’s not debate the character and motives of the man, but think about how the expansion of Western civilization to the New World and then beyond through American influence has benefited the entire planet.

Mike Fullilove of Long Beach writes about local, state and national issues from a conservative perspective.