Christopher Columbus, We Salute You

by | Oct 24, 2003 | History, POLITICS

Most Columbus Days are marked by rabid condemnations of the explorer as a genocidal maniac bent on destroying the peaceful and innocent native peoples who populated the Caribbean islands which Columbus discovered. These condemnations are not only unwarranted but indicative of the hatred those delivering them have for all that Columbus stood for and brought […]

Most Columbus Days are marked by rabid condemnations of the explorer as a genocidal maniac bent on destroying the peaceful and innocent native peoples who populated the Caribbean islands which Columbus discovered. These condemnations are not only unwarranted but indicative of the hatred those delivering them have for all that Columbus stood for and brought to the primitive New World.

Two myths regarding Columbus to dispel quickly are 1) that everyone thought the world was flat while he thought it was round and 2) that the legacy of Columbus was one of death and destruction.

Columbus and everyone else who was educated in Europe knew the Earth was round, a fact which had been proven by the Ancient Greeks. What Columbus got wrong was the circumference of the Earth, causing him to think he could sail from Europe to Asia going west, which of course you can, but lucky for him the Americas were in his way or he would have ended up starving.

The legacy of Columbus was not death and destruction. Most Indian deaths were caused by the introduction of diseases that the Europeans brought with them unwittingly. It must also be remembered that the Indians living in the Americas were largely primitive Stone Age level savages who advanced little in the thousands of years they inhabited North and South America. The two built up “civilizations” of the Americas, those of the Incas and the Aztecs, were hardly much better, being built upon irrationality, human sacrifice, and brutal primitivism.

Contrary to the myth of the peaceful natives who Europe unleashed war upon, warfare existed in plenty before Columbus arrived and it continued as the Indians clashed with the European explorers and each other.

It’s always asserted that we, like Columbus, stole the land of the Indians. This seems dubious considering the nomadic nature of many of the peoples he encountered and their lack of private property or organized settlements.

What was there to steal?

The land was not in use, evidenced by the pathetic level of any kind of progress, intellectual or material, on the part of nearly all Indian tribes despite thousands of years in lands of great plenty and separated from the other people of the world who could have potentially meddled with them.

What is the true legacy of Columbus? We are. The Discovery of the New World allowed people to start anew away from the absolutist and mercantilist kingdoms of Europe.

All the ideas upon which our country was predicated individual rights, capitalism and limited republican government, were allowed to flourish in an environment far away from the Kings and aristocrats of the Old World.

The Indians, forced either to join civilization or cling to their primitive savagery, became as the nomadic barbarians of the Old World. But unlike their Old World counterparts, the ridiculously low development of Indian “civilization” in comparison to that of the Europeans and the later colonists didn’t allow them to have the same devastating effects the Huns, Mongols, Vikings, Vandals, and others had had. As a result their tribal primitivism and mystical world view was supplanted by the budding fruits of human reason which eventually led to the foundation of the American Republic.

Why are the condemnations of Columbus so visceral and continual year after year? We’re told in college that “all cultures are equal” and that to prefer our culture over any other is “ethnocentrism.” This is absurd. If all cultures are equal then why do people move, predominantly, to prospering societies as opposed to tribal primitive Indian-type societies? The answer is simply that not all cultures are equal. Some cultures are, indeed, better than others.

But the goal of such bromides as “all cultures are equal” is to tear down cultures like ours which are, by every objective standard, far better than the savage primitives out in the middle of forests and oceans who eat other people, or sacrifice them to the sun or volcanoes, or practice any other absurdity.

Humans, having the ability to reason, are in a unique position to prosper far more successfully than any other animal. Columbus was the harbinger of reason for the New World which was devoid of it, a situation which was inexcusable.

Similarly, any defense of the pre-Columbus condition is glorifying perpetual irrational primitivism and death while condemning the introduction of reason and the ideas that flowed from it. Columbus is thus cursed when in fact he should be thanked, not only by us, but by the descendents of the Indians who escaped conditions that, barely better than death, their ancestors experienced millennia after millennia.

Thank you Christopher Columbus.

A version of the above article was published in UNLV’s Rebel Yell on September 29, 2003. The article created quite a stir as reported in the Rebel Yell:

Marriott’s opinions sparked controversy at UNLV immediately after the Sept. 29 issue hit newsstands. The piece included the assertion that some societies are “better than others” and a reference to American Indians as “primitive Stone Age level savages.” The Rebel Yell received several angry letters as a result. The most recent and drastic form of protest took place Thursday when all copies of the paper were bundled up in trash bags and left in the campus amphitheater, with the phrase “Rebel Yell Wake Up” draped over them.

Below are Mr. Marriott’s responses to many of the accusations aimed at him and his article.

Alexander Marriott Responds

When I wrote, “Christopher Columbus, We Salute You,” my intent was not to create controversy, as that already existed in respect to Columbus, but to defend a man who has been unfairly demonized by politically correct and Marxist historians like Howard Zinn and others.

The response that my article generated was what I expected it to be, not because I wanted such a response, but because I recognized that I’m in a small minority on this subject, especially among college students. To clear up any misunderstanding let me state once and for all, I stand by what I wrote and I believe the conclusions I drew were accurate, I was not writing simply to create a fuss.

As for the four Letters to the Editor that appeared in the October 6 edition of the Rebel Yell, I will answer as many of their points as I can now.

Rebeca Ramirez equated reading my article to me beating her up and then spitting in her face, which is an odd thing to feel when one reads opinions you don’t agree with. If I responded in this way I’d feel run over by a freight train all day long. She then says that I claimed “that Columbus didn’t do anything wrong.” I never said that, I merely said that those things that Columbus is usually accused of, like stealing land, or committing genocide, are entirely false. Columbus, like most of the men of his day, accepted the idea of slavery and so he did enslave Indians, but I never said I agreed with this or thought it wasn’t wrong. On the contrary, it was highly immoral and is a blight upon his record, but, to be fair, the Indians themselves took slaves amongst their various tribes, usually in the form of tributes.

She also goes on to compare me to Adolf Hitler and refers to my piece as a “Nazi article.” This is just a pathetic and unsupported smear against me. The only thing she uses as proof is that I think American culture is better than others, and Hitler thought his culture was better too, therefore I’m Hitler.

Also, I’m supposedly hateful, and by implication, a racist. I invite Ms. Ramirez to go through every article I’ve ever written and compare my ideas to those of Adolf Hitler, who claimed that races were inherently different by blood, something I neither believe nor have ever asserted. Then, please, show how Adolf and I are similar ideologically. Hitler was a socialist and a nature loving environmentalist which puts him closer ideologically to the Indians than to me.

Brian Broekemeier invokes a similar theme by terming my article an “Illusion of Bigotry.” He then goes on to sing the praises of Aztec and Inca culture, referring to them as “thriving civilization[s].” He also pleads, “Why is an empire reflecting the architectural, religious, and overall greatness of the Egyptians not good enough for you?!”

Here is the answer. First of all, being an atheist, “religious greatness” isn’t an achievement in my view, but a serious error that stymies civilization and caused the Aztecs to sacrifice hundreds upon hundreds of innocent people to the Sun. Sure that’s great assuming you aren’t the one being killed. Plus, I never said this was only an Indian mistake, Europeans and Americans have been hampered and stymied by the exact same phenomenon.

I also find nothing particularly special about Incan, Aztec, or Egyptian architecture. The Egyptians ran a slave system through which they directed the entire productive energy of their country towards the building of giant tombs to their god-kings. This isn’t an achievement, but a travesty and a sure sign of a tyrannical and backward society. Why do you think, aside from constructing giant stone pyramids, the Egyptians contributed nothing to philosophy or general knowledge? The whole culture was devoted towards death, how to care for the dead, house the dead, dress the dead, please the dead, etc. If cultures like this are a standard for greatness Hitler’s Nazis and the Soviet Communists must be viewed very favorably as well.

Gordon Ison kindly wished that I commit suicide and then derided me for not having any Indians in my family line or acknowledging them. I never brought that up, because any such comment would have been very racist indeed. What would it matter if I had Indians in my family tree or not? Individuals think or don’t, regardless of their superficial skin pigments or bone structures.

Christine Brown did a beautiful job critiquing my article except that she cited no examples, brought up no points, compared me to Tariq Aziz (Hitler-lite), and used clich

Alexander Marriott is currently a graduate student of the early republic at Clark University in Worcester, MA. He earned his B.A. in history in 2004 from the University of Nevada - Las Vegas, where he was an Op-Ed columnist for the UNLV Rebel Yell. Marriott grew up in Chicago and lived in Saudi Arabia for four and a half years and has resided in Las Vegas since 1996.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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