The Politically Correct now celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day, as the above photo tweeted from a liberal Methodist caucus illustrates.
There were two especially worthwhile blogs yesterday on commemorating Columbus.
Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition quotes Christian historian Steven Keillor on Columbus, with Keillor noting that the discoverer believed his exploration was key to biblical prophecy by delivering the Gospel to the far reaches.
“Without justifying his actions, or those of other explorers and conquerors, we can say that Columbus was correct here,” according to Keillor. “By starting the process whereby this dynamic European culture became globally dominant, Columbus made global history an irretrievably linear history.” God used Columbus and Spanish conquest for His purposes without approving their methods. Here’s more from Keillor:
So, paradoxically, both Columbus and the revisionist writers who condemn him are correct. His voyages advanced God’s long-range goals and yet were profoundly ungodly. That is so because of a deeper paradox: the Christianity carried by Europeans to the New World was divinely revealed truth, yet those who carried it were in serious rebellion against it. As divine revelation, it provoked human rebellion. Exploration brought rebellion to a world that had not known rebellion as destructively dynamic as was Europe’s.
Less darkly, Maureen Mullarkey in First Things cites Columbus biographer Samuel Eliot Morison, whose work won a 1942 Pulitzer, and which described Columbus this way:
He had his flaws and his defects, but they were largely the defects of the qualities that made him great—his indomitable will, his superb faith in God and in his own mission as the Christ-bearer to lands beyond the seas, his stubborn persistence despite neglect, poverty, and discouragement. But there was no flaw, no dark side to the most outstanding and essential of all his qualities—his seamanship. As a master mariner and navigator, Columbus was supreme in his generation. Never was a title more justly bestowed than the one he most jealously guarded—Almirante del Mar Océano, Admiral of the Ocean Sea.
Mullarkey regrets that modern historians of the Left reduce Columbus “to an excuse for moral outrage: a symptom of European egocentrism and a genocidal calamity,” for which they “would have us repent one of the most significant achievements of human history,” wrought by an “imperfect man of imperfect times,” who’s “been dissolved in the acid bath of the self-flagellating ideologies of our time.” Mullarkey trembles “for a generation raised against itself, instilled with suicidal guilt, and poised to denounce protagonists of the civilization that sustains them.”
The hyper politically correct who demonize Columbus might merit more serious regard if they didn’t so lavishly romanticize “indigenous peoples,” who vigorously practiced their own conquests, slavery and genocides long before Columbus appeared on the horizon. Today’s anti-Western, angst-ridden ideologues likely wouldn’t have lasted many moons under the old “indigenous” cultures. The natives likely would have spliced up such irritating persons as sacrifices in their temples, while lamenting that the pagan deities deserved better than such languid spirits.
Anti-Western ideologues don’t really revere indigenous cultures, they just exploit them for historical and political polemics. For them, Columbus is chiefly a useful icon for what they despise about modern civilization, Christianity, capitalism and progress. Not believing history has divine purpose, they contort their villains and victims into a pseudo-Marxist dialectic.
Columbus was a sinful, unworthy instrument of Providence, whose courage and skill deserve admiration, and whose discovery ultimately offered a suffering world a dramatic new avenue for civilizational advance. His holiday deserves more celebration than protest.