When I refer to the twisted history of Christopher Columbus, I’m not referring to the man himself. I’m referring to the revising of a story that was set down in print long ago. I’m talking about why you can’t just take a modern interpretation of a very old story and change it, repackage it, and judge it by modern standards. I want to show you how to avoid doing that.
In the 21st century, it’s difficult to teach and talk about Christopher Columbus. The revisionist history population would have us hateful and bitter toward a man who they believe single-handedly committed genocide during his murderous voyage to the New World.
But there’s a lot more to the story. So who do you trust? How do you know?
Firsthand accounts and primary resources are the most accurate way to understand Columbus, his men, his times, and their actions. Columbus was a prolific journalist, and he carefully noted his highs and his lows. He wrote about his call to spread the gospel around the world, and he wrote about his miserable failings toward God and his country. He was honest about everything that happened. It’s all there to read if people would only look.
History is neither good nor bad. It’s amoral. It’s a long, long story. It’s a series of events. We can look back and either like or dislike those events, but it doesn’t change them.
Retelling the stories doesn’t make them less true. Removing monuments doesn’t make the uncomfortable parts disappear. Oh, my goodness; it’s more important than ever for us to really know history! We have to know it for ourselves, not let others tell us what they think happened.
Does anyone remember that white Americans are not the only ones responsible for slavery? Who was selling those slaves, anyway? It was their fellow Africans. The long cycle of evil in Africa began way before there was an America, and if you’ll notice, it continues today.
Abraham Lincoln was in a position to change the course of history, and whether you like him or not, he did just that. And what did he get? Murder by a white supremacist.
Were the pioneers wrong to move west and settle on the land when the Indians were already there? For that matter, were the Pilgrims wrong to do the same?
Should Nazi artifacts and swastikas be buried away forever? Or should they be on display for us to remember the Holocaust? After all, we are already seeing a movement to bury that history, as well. Even the German people should want to remember what happened so that it might never happen again.
Why are Vikings the cool guys, when they actually did murder and pillage just for the sake of murder and pillage? They were also white European males. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Was it because they wreaked their havoc on other whites?
We could judge every person and every time period for doing what we might not do. But that’s not our place. Might we be judged for a long list of wrongs by future generations? Abortion, perhaps?
Related article from Intellectual Takeout: The West Has Done Bad Things…But So Has Every Other Culture
Christopher Columbus was on a mission to find the riches of the Orient. But he also felt that he was a “Christ-bearer.” Despite his faults, he was in a position to make the official discovery of the Americas. He is vilified as an Indian slaughterer. But do you know what those Indians were doing? Human sacrifice. Read about it. Columbus was human, but he wasn’t pure evil.
Did you know that Columbus was funded by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain to celebrate the removal of Islam from Spain?
“…In A.D. 1469 Queen Isabella of Castille married King Ferdinand of Aragon, and together they united Christian Spain.
Through a series of battles the Spanish Christians took city after city, freeing Christian captives from the dungeons but at the same time imprisoning Muslims. Eventually they won control of all of Moorish [Muslim] Spain except for the city of Granada. Located amid snow-capped mountains in southern-Spain and protected by the Alhambra, possibly the most magnificent fortress ever built in a Muslim land, Granada was a formidable city indeed. The armies of Ferdinand and Isabella besieged Granada for six months and then offered terms of peace: If the city surrendered, those who chose to leave would be sent free of charge to Africa. Those who chose to remain had to acknowledge Ferdinand and Isabella as king and queen, but would be allowed freedom of worship and the right to be governed by their own laws, administered by Moorish rule. The Moors accepted, and the Emir of Granada emerged from the walls and presented the keys to the city to Ferdinand and Isabella.
In a triumphant procession, the ‘Spanish Army marched into Granada. Cardinal Mendoza raised a great silver cross over the Alhambra, and Ferdinand and Isabella knelt in the city square to give thanks to the God who after 781 years had evicted Islam from Spain.’ One of those who marched into Granada with Ferdinand and Isabella was Christopher Columbus.
And the date was January 2, 1492.”
“The war was over! The last Moorish [Muslim] foothold in Europe had been dislodged, and Christ reigned supreme in Castille! Pandemonium broke out – as war-weary Christian soldiers wept and cried and gave thanks to God.
Full of joy himself, Columbus was nonetheless impatient to see the King and Queen. He may have been the only Christian in Granada that night not completely given over to the exhilaration of the moment. He was not kept waiting long. Exhausted as they were, Their Catholic Majesties listened attentively to Columbus. As it turned out, there had never been a time when they could been more receptive to his proposals. God had granted them a tremendous victory, and they had not yet thought of how they might show their heavenly Father their gratitude – build a cathedral, make a pilgrimage, erect shelters for the poor…And now a far more modest possibility presented itself. Here, back again, was the Genoese visionary, with his proposal for his own Crusade: to discover new lands for the glory of God and His Church, and to spread the Gospel of the Holy Savior to the ends of the earth.
What if he WERE God’s man, as Perez (the monk) seemed to think that he was? Could this be how God would have them show gratitude?
Thinking it over, it seemed very much so to them. Promptly, they summoned Columbus to tell him that they agreed to his plan.”
Did you know that some of the Indian tribes Columbus encountered practiced human sacrifice and cannibalism? From his journals:
October 11, 1492
“In order to win their friendship, since I knew they were a people to be converted and won to our holy faith by love and friendship rather than by force, I gave some of them red caps and glass beads whey they hung round their necks, also many other trifles. These things pleased them greatly and they became marvellously friendly to us. They afterwards swam out to the ship’s boats in which we were sitting, bringing us parrots and balls of cotton thread and spears and many other things, which the exchanged with us for such objects as glass beads, hawks, and bells. In fact, they very willingly traded everything they had. But they seemed to me a people very short of everything. They all go naked as their mothers bore them, including the women, although I saw only one very young girl.
“These people (the Caribs) raid the other islands and carry off all the women they can take, especially the young and beautiful, whom they keep as servants and concubines. They had carried off so many that in fifty houses we found no males and more than twenty of the captives were girls. These women say that they are treated with a cruelty that seems incredible. The Caribs eat the male children that they have by them, and only bring up the children of their own women; and as for the men they are able to capture, they bring those who are alive home to be slaughtered and eat those who are dead on the spot. They say that human flesh is so good that there is nothing like it in the world; and this must be true, for the human bones we found in their houses were so gnawed that no flesh was left on them except what was too tough to be eaten. In one house the neck of a man was found cooking in a pot. They castrate the boys that they capture and use them as servants until they are men. Then, when they want to make a feast, they kill and eat them, for they say that the flesh of boys and women is not good to eat. Three of these boys fled to us, and all three had been castrated.” (Source: The Four Voyages: Being His Own Log-Book, Letters and Dispatches with Connecting Narratives by Christopher Columbus)
There are so many stories throughout history that are verified by the people who were there. You don’t have to like what they said or did, but they were living in their time, just as we are living in ours. We can’t pretend their stories away. But we CAN learn from them.
When we meet the people who made history through the stories of their lives, understand their core convictions, read the words they put down, and understand the age they lived in, we not only understand why they did their deeds, but we want to make sure it was worth it. We don’t want their lives to be for nothing. We can show our children the pictures, the monuments, and tell them the stories and help them to understand there are lessons to be learned from both great events and tragic ones.
So while the University of Notre Dame covers up century-old murals of Columbus, cities and countries take down his statues, and cities and states all over America call for a renaming of the holiday to Indigenous People’s Day, let’s try to take an unemotional look at series of events that are a part of world history, for better or for worse.
READ REAL BOOKS
All of this shallow outrage is the result of a heavy dose of indoctrination and an equally large lack of actual education. We live in a population that suffers from a combination of strong emotions and weak critical thinking skills. Our feelings about a situation override all facts. And now these feelings are inserted into history textbooks for public school students.
Related Post: Why I Wrote Debunking Howard Zinn by Mary Grabar
Tearing down monuments to assuage feelings of social justice is not a solution. And while I believe wholeheartedly that the monuments should remain where they were erected, I don’t think it’s the worst part of our culture. It’s a symptom of a much worse disease: being woefully uneducated. It must be really embarrassing to defame the wrong statue because all you know is the last name of the guy you’re supposed to hate. (Read my post: Better Than Monuments)
This is why I hate “textbooks.” They chop up, water down, and regurgitate a bit of fact with a lot of opinion. In our homeschool, we read history from as many original sources as possible. We discuss what happened, who made history, why their actions might have been noble or not, and connect it to previous and future events. (Read my post: How the Protestant Reformation Gave Us the United States of America)
Visit my online store: Knowledge Keepers Bookstore to see what kind of books I recommend. Begin a family library (if you don’t already have one) and leave a legacy of truth and history to your family. Give them resources to learn from history so they are not guilty of repeating it.