Christopher Columbus, Hero or ?

Sometimes I get upset with some writers. Here's an answer I wrote to one who wrote a scathing article about why we should not celebrate Columbus Day, in our local newspaper in Porterville..

Columbus and History

Christopher Columbus was a visionary, a hero in his time, and the 513th anniversary of his landing in the New World is only a few days away. Many people are afraid of that, and they blame him for the follies of his time and his peers. Michael Carley made that clear.

Columbus was not a perfect man. He was a man who had many of the foibles of his day, but with a vision that no one else had in his time. His day was brutal, harsh, and life was worth little.

To judge any person from 1492 one must look through the eyes of a person from that year, not through the  eyes of an immature person from 2011.

Soldiers and mercenaries could walk into your home, drag you or your family members out, torture you, and put you to death giving you no recourse and no reason. Anyone at any time  could be forced into slavery if he displeased those in power over him, at any place on the entire globe. Slavery was everywhere, especially in the New World before Columbus.

Sailors were afraid to sail more than three days from shore, always hugging the coast, yet Columbus proposed sailing straight out into the “Ocean Sea” for weeks.  He did miscalculate the circumference of the earth, but without that miscalculation no one would have gone with  him or supported him.

He did misrepresent the distance that he traveled to his crew, but they also did murmur and threaten mutiny. If they had mutinied, he never would have completed that voyage, so it is obvious that they didn’t. It took a powerfully strong and courageous leader to put together the resources and to keep the crew from giving up.

And the Santa Maria did run aground at midnight on Christmas Day, 1492. Columbus had to leave the wrecked ship on the reef.

On the same day that Columbus sailed on this voyage of exploration from Spain, the last ship  carrying thousands of Jews also departed from Spain. Those Jews were expelled, under penalty of death. They were to either give up their religion and become Christians or be executed.

For this reason alone, we should remember Columbus, for the contrast between what the world was in his day, and to what this nation has become today, A nation that stands for freedom of religion, freedom of speech and numerous other freedoms.

He was the pivot point.

That's why we used to celebrate Columbus Day.

Had he not had his self confidant, even arrogant conviction that he was right, it might have been, 50, 100 or even two hundred years before the Spaniards or Portuguese got to America, setting back that freedom even longer, and even one year was too long. Even after Columbus proved the “Ocean Sea” could be crossed it took the Spaniards ten years to get to Asia.

Someone had to sail directly out into the sea to get to America. He did it, and those jealous of his fame have wanted to pull him down from the moment he stepped off of that ship back in Spain.

Without his self confidence setting the standard, it would have been much longer before any one dared to sail more than three days out of sight of land.

It would have been done eventually by someone, and all the blame that is placed upon Columbus would be put on him, because we live in an age of the assassination of heroes, and political correctness, but our freedoms would be that many years behind.

It is only in light of a true understanding of what America has become that you can understand the importance of Samuel Eliot Morison's words, in his book "Christopher Columbus, Mariner."

Morison says:"Not since the birth of Christ has there been a night so full of meaning for the human race.

Morison continues, "At 2 A.M. October 12 (1492) Rodrigo de Triana, lookout on Pinta, sees something like a white cliff shining in the moonlight, and sings out. 'Tierra! Tierra!' Land! Land!"

That was the beginning of freedom, peace and goodwill on this earth, which is still spreading from this country.

It was only a few years ago that claims were being made all over the media that we never really landed on the moon, and it has only been in the past few weeks that we could actually see those real landing spots  from the earth, thanks to a new space telescope camera circling the moon.

The hero assassins tried to pull down President Kennedy who originated the space program and the astronauts, as they are trying to pull down Columbus and other great leaders, saying they didn’t really do anything.

You’d think these  literary politically correctness gurus never really got over being told there was no Santa Clause, because they want to hurt every one else who has a hero.

Yes, Mr. Carley, there is no Santa Clause, but there are kinder ways to present the truth.