Columbus Day

And yes, it’s Columbus Day, not Indigenous People’s Day or whatever the hell people are trying to get it renamed to.

I cannot add a lot to this, which the Professor reposts every year.  I have read Samuel Eliot Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Christopher Columbus.  It is a fine volume, rigorously researched, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the truth.

I am not interested in the guilt trip the Left would like us to take every year on this day, any more than I am ever interested in the similar guilt trip the Left likes to try to take us on whenever they get all hot to trot about slavery, white guilt, and reparations pertaining thereto.  Or the guilt trip the Left likes to try to make us take on when they start yelling about reparations for relocation of Japanese-Americans during WWII.  Or, frankly, any other guilt trip the Left can gin up and weep crocodile tears over.

The fact of the matter is that Columbus did come to America (well, to the Caribbean; he never set foot on the North American continent) and he — or his men — treated the indigenous population in varying ways.  Although perhaps the worst thing he and his Spaniards did was bring European diseases to the islands, for which the indig. pop. had no natural immunities.  On the other hand, it’s theorized that they gave syphilis to the Europeans, so it may or may not have been a fair exchange.

The funny thing about history is that, while we can inveigh against it and scold its participants, there isn’t a hell of a lot we can do to reverse it.  Columbus came to America.  Can’t change that.  A bunch of indigs died.  Can’t change that, either.  The Spaniards made a cocked-up mess of their Caribbean empire, and made a worse mess when they expanded into Central and South America.  Yep.  It is what it is.  The people who died are long moldered away in their graves — for that matter, so are the people who killed them — and they aren’t going to come back.  Get over it.

On the other hand, from what we’re finding out about the Aztecs and Inca and suchlike, the Spaniards and the other Europeans who followed them may have done the surviving indigs a gigantic favor.  After all, Europeans didn’t really go in for human sacrifice.  In fact, they got pretty damned upset when they found out the indigs were doing it.

In sum, pre-Columbian America was kind of a shitty place, if you weren’t an elite.  The “noble savage” is a canard.  The only time the savages became noble was when either they laid down their arms and went peacefully into reservations, or when they got the shit stomped out of them and were wiped out trying to fight back.  I will not go so far as W.T. Sherman, as to me a good Indian is an Indian who stopped fighting.  If the reason he stopped fighting was a .50 cal or .30-06 sized hole in his head that he got while waving a tomahawk at a member of the US Cavalry, well, it just wasn’t his lucky day.  But I digress; I was talking about Columbus and the Spanish Conquistadors who followed him.

And I’m not going to apologize for them.  I wasn’t there.  I don’t even know if any of my ancestors were there.  It’s too far back in time for me to feel any great emotion over the fact that some great-grandparent 20 or more generations back might have been a mass-murdering soldier in Cortez’s or some other Spanish commander’s army.  (And they probably weren’t, since if I have any Latin ancestors at all, they were Jews and were likely being kicked out of Spain and running for Russia at the time.  The rest of my ancestors were Germans and they weren’t gadding about the Americas at that point.)

For that matter, anyone who claims that he or she is personally aggrieved that a possible ancestor from 500 years ago may have been killed, enslaved, dispossessed, or egregiously inconvenienced by the white man probably needs to suck it up and get on with their lives.  It didn’t happen yesterday, damn few people care other than in a detached sort of way, and nobody is going to give you loads of cash to make it feel better.  For that matter, an entire quarter of my family was wiped out by Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s, and I don’t recall that my maternal grandmother — one of two survivors of the family, both of whom had left Austria many years before — ever received even so much as an “I’m sorry” from the German or Austrian governments.  Certainly they were never paid a dime in reparations, or offered restoration of stolen property.  And I don’t expect them to do that for me at this late remove; these people all died 20 or more years before I was born, and I certainly never knew any of them.  Moreover, it won’t bring them back, and it won’t satisfy my sense of outrage at their horrific deaths.

Meanwhile, here we are living in a pretty reasonable modern world.  Yeah, it sucks for some people, and there are a lot of people who hate our guts for living high on the hog while they live on the hog’s leavings.  Of course, some of the people who hate us live they way they do because their elites tell them to live that way, and to hate us because we don’t live at the same level of squalor prescribed by the prophet or whatever.  Some of the people who hate us are our own people, who’ve been bullshitted into thinking that nobody should live as well as we do while other people starve and live in hellholes because they have shitty leaders who grab all the good things for themselves.  (We call those of our own people who hate us “Democrats”.  Just to be clear.)

And this modern world wouldn’t exist it if hadn’t been for Christopher Columbus, who thought he’d found India when he got here, instead of starving to death or dying of thirst in the middle of the ocean the advisors to the Spanish king and queen thought was actually there.  Columbus’s discovery that the royal advisors were wrong sparked a new era of European expansion — for good or ill, and much of it ill, but a lot of it most of us would consider good.

If you’re an American today, and you live in a nice house, drive a nice car, enjoy all the modern comforts — hell, if you’re reading this on the Internet — and you hate Christopher Columbus for what he did to the indig. pop. back in 1492 —

Well, fuck you.  You should be on your knees praying to whatever god(s) you might or might not believe in that ol’ C.C. got here and made it back to tell the story.

The rest of us will raise a glass to the great explorer, even if he got here mostly by luck and accident, and even though the guy who probably should have gotten the credit for the discovery of the continent proper was Amerigo Vespucii.