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To Recognize: The Full Understanding of Columbus Day

Updated on October 25, 2016

What do you think of Columbus?

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How unfortunate is it that people of color view Columbus Day with mild remembrance at best and vicious derision at worst? When rapper Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter announces on his 2013 track “Oceans” with singer Christopher Francis “Frank” Ocean that he’s “Anti-Santa Maria/ only Christopher we acknowledge is Wallace” (curiously Mr. Carter doesn’t even recognize a Christopher on his own song) the sentiment is that Columbus lived as a covetous brute who laid waste to anything and anyone in his way. But that’s just not the case. His endeavors lead to future explorers’ quests which in turn lead to the glory that is modern day America. What alternative is there to the industrialized, civilized, and advanced world in which Americans live? If there were in fact an alternate universe, would indigenous peoples be able to devise property rights, establish the rule of law, found companies, build skyscrapers, the automobile, airplanes, create an intercontinental network of telephony, discover cures for diseases, and innovate the Internet? Or would they, century after miserable century, stomp around in mud piles and don feathers hoping that the next tribe doesn’t tomahawk them to death? Or that they die at the expected living age of 39 from sickness that could have been treated with the advancements in medicine?

While it will never be certain what would have happened, what can be known is that any element of rational living introduced to the American Indians constituted a wellspring for human achievement. Now, of course the New World would be fraught by slavery, disease, and injustices. But these remain only contradictions to the ruling principles that a man’s life belonged not to God or the king or society but to him. And that he might find remedies to these social ills. So, that microphone, those multi-million-dollar deals, the Maybach vehicle that he boasts about, all came from somewhere that Mr. Carter fails to realize. The productive minds free to think in the only moral country in the history of the Earth, conceived of these expressions of the mind. It is with that tool, which is man’s only means of survival, that Columbus, the Founding Fathers and others wrought the foundation of the United States. And so Columbus Day ought to be a celebration of the application of reason to the problem of savagery. What resulted is the spectacle of accomplishment which Americans now enjoy today.


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