October 10, 1492 — Here the men lost all patience, and complained of the length of the voyage, but the Admiral encouraged them in the best manner he could, representing the profits they were about to acquire, and adding that it was to no purpose to complain, having come so far, they had nothing to do but continue on to the Indies, till with the help of our Lord, they should arrive there.
October 12, 1492 — At two o’clock in the morning the land was discovered, at two leagues’ distance; they took in sail and remained under the square-sail lying to till day, which was Friday, when they found themselves near a small island, one of the Lucayos, called in the Indian language Guanahani.
— As translated in Journals and “Other Documents on the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus “ (1963) by Samuel Eliot Morison, pp. 62 – 64 (derived from a summary made by Bartolomé de Las Casas).
One of the current targets of the American left’s chagrin appears to be Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of the lands of the Western Hemisphere. Commemorative statues of the explorer have been vandalized and even removed from many cities and places in the United States. There is a movement — among some institutions and in places already successful — to rename October 12 to “Indigenous Peoples Day.” Perhaps those of us were born in this country should not be offended, currently being indigenous and native to America ourselves. But, of course, what the cancel culture has in mind is a sop to those (assuming most even care) individuals whose ancestors immigrated to the Western Hemisphere prior to Columbus’ arrival.
Anthropologists and those of related disciplines, have demonstrated that the original “discoverer” was the first human who crossed the Bering Strait, or the land bridge that formerly existed, several millennia ago. And Vikings briefly visited what are now the Canadian Maritime Provinces and perhaps the coast of Maine four or five centuries before 1492.
Columbus’s voyages of exploration and discovery, however, commenced the permanent connection between Europe and the Western Hemisphere and later the rest of the world. In most significant aspects, the New World over the next five centuries became the New Europe. The culture termed Western Civilization came to dominate the world, and its world has been much better ever since. Anyone that does not believe that it has is not paying attention.
The left in the United States, especially the majority of the university professoriat, are certainly among them. They are the blind who will not see. Their fiction is that Columbus and his immediate successors rapaciously conquered “paradise” and brought war, disease, racism, slavery, and oppression to the inhabitants who had long communed in harmony with nature.
Of course, this is nonsense. Western Civilization did not invent racism, disease, slavery, or warfare. Those maladies existed among humans from time immemorial, and still do, chiefly in places that have not yet accepted Western culture. The West, however, during the post-Columbus centuries ended slavery, drastically curtailed disease throughout the entire world, and made subsistence so abundant that as much, if not more is actually thrown away as consumed. The slavery that still exists is in places that have rejected Western Civilization. While racism, that is, tribalism, may have been mitigated, the leftist identity politics have given it a new life under a different name. War has not been eliminated; perhaps that is impossible for so long as there are those who eschew reason.
Christopher Columbus was in the vanguard of the West. He was the individual with the courage to strike out and risk his very life by sailing into the unknown to discover a new route, not for conquest, but for trade and commerce. He found this new hemisphere where Western Civilization was to expand and flourish. If it had not been Columbus, it doubtless would have been another European who came to the American continents. But no matter, he was the first, and over four voyages he made the connection between the old and new worlds permanent. This commenced what Texas historian Walter Prescott Webb called The Great Frontier — a four century economic boom that benefitted the entire world.
Note: Just this past week, adjunct professor Richard Taylor was punished by St. John’s College in New York for posing the question “Do the positives outweigh the negatives?” about the Columbian Exchange to his history class. That was the exchange of plants, animals, and diseases between the Old and New Worlds that occurred subsequent to Columbus’ voyages. The most noted of the exchange was the smallpox and other diseases the Europeans brought to the Americas, and the maladies unknown to Europeans that the sailors brought back. The short term effects of that exchange were devastating to the then indigenous inhabitants, but the long term effects may well have been, and are, beneficial to later ones. A debate on both sides of this topic is certainly an exercise that students and faculty should be able to have without being censured or canceled. See https://www.thefire.org/teaching-history-not-permitted-st-johns-bulldozes-academic-freedom-punishes-professor-for-posing-question-about-columbian-exchange/