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Happy Columbus Day

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It may no longer be fashionable to celebrate Columbus Day, but I like to remember that Columbus Day used to be a great national day for celebration when I was a kid.

To stumble upon something new, one must first approach near to it. A land-bound peasant, or even a sailor who hewed always to the coastline, would never in a million years have had the "luck" of discovering America. It is the fearless eagerness to approach the outer edge of the known, where the unknown lies waiting to be seen, smelled, and touched, that separates the trailblazers from the herd. The rewards are great, but so are the risks. Failure, starvation, drowning, and death might have awaited Coumbus there beyond the edge of the known world. But he found land instead -- land enough for the world's greatest nation to take rood and grow -- land enough for the world's finest civilization to show just how much is possible when reason guides men's lives. For having lead Europeans to these shores, for having shown mankind the way west, Columbus merits the immortality that only history can confer upon mortal man.

Christopher Columbus was a hero. On Columbus Day, therefore, let us celebrate.

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It may no longer be fashionable to celebrate Columbus Day, but I like to remember that Columbus Day used to be a great national day for celebration when I was a kid.
To stumble upon something new, one must first approach near to it. A land-bound peasant, or even a sailor who hewed always to the coastline, would never in a million years have had the "luck" of discovering America. It is the fearless eagerness to approach the outer edge of the known, where the unknown lies waiting to be seen, smelled, and touched, that separates the trailblazers from the herd. The rewards are great, but so are the risks. Failure, starvation, drowning, and death might have awaited Coumbus there beyond the edge of the known world. But he found land instead -- land enough for the world's greatest nation to take rood and grow -- land enough for the world's finest civilization to show just how much is possible when reason guides men's lives. For having lead Europeans to these shores, for having shown mankind the way west, Columbus merits the immortality that only history can confer upon mortal man.

Christopher Columbus was a hero. On Columbus Day, therefore, let us celebrate.

Yes, I remember, too. What a positive, shining world it seemed to be.

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Yes, I remember, too. What a positive, shining world it seemed to be.

For whom? Please recall that the earliest explorations and colonizations were done by the Spaniards, who brought disease, cruelty, slavery and religious persecution to the New World. Please recall that Columbus and his expeditions were bought and paid for by Ferdinand and Isabella who got the money by looting the Jews they expelled from Spain. That does not sound too positive and shining to me.

The Dutch and the English were far more reasonable. When the Dutch and English landed they came -to live-, and generally not to loot. There are some notable exceptions however: for example Cecil Rhodes.

The Dutch were the best of the European colonizers. Their main interest was trade and commerce, rather than domination and conquest. In the 17 and 18-th centuries the Dutch extended liberty and tolerance to divergent political and religious views. Which is why people like Spinoza could live and not be bothered too much by the Powers That Were. The Hollanders are still an easygoing bunch.

ruveyn

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Yes, I remember, too. What a positive, shining world it seemed to be.

For whom? Please recall that the earliest explorations and colonizations were done by the Spaniards, who brought disease, cruelty, slavery and religious persecution to the New World. Please recall that Columbus and his expeditions were bought and paid for by Ferdinand and Isabella who got the money by looting the Jews they expelled from Spain. That does not sound too positive and shining to me.

It seems you forget that most of the world was just coming out of the "middle ages" and to blame Columbus for something he played no part in is unjust. Did Columbus cause the fall of Rome and the darkness that followed? Did Columbus start all the religious persecutions that went on during his time? Was there no disease in the new found world? The answer to all of the questions is, NO. Did Columbus do things wrong? Yes, and there is no reason to overlook those items. But, when looked at in proper context, that being the time of his travels and other situations that were beyond his control, what he accomplished is worthy of praise.

So, I say thank you Christopher Columbus for having the courage and pertenacity to never give up on your goals. Even thoguh Christopher Columbus never found the route he was searching for, I think he found something better.

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Yes, I remember, too. What a positive, shining world it seemed to be.

For whom? Please recall that the earliest explorations and colonizations were done by the Spaniards, who brought disease, cruelty, slavery and religious persecution to the New World. Please recall that Columbus and his expeditions were bought and paid for by Ferdinand and Isabella who got the money by looting the Jews they expelled from Spain. That does not sound too positive and shining to me.

"Disease, cruelty, slavery, religious persecution and looting the Jews" were not the purpose of Columbus's expedition, nor do they distinguish it from the rest of the world at the time, including the Indians (except for attacks on European Jews by Indians, who had their own substitutes in the Indian tribalism). Neither was the expedition a Jeffersonian ideal; it was before the Enlightenment in Europe. That does not negate the achievement of Columbus and its results for the civilized world, including us.

Be sure to read Thomas Bowden's book, The Enemies of Christopher Columbus and the articles at ARI: 1, 2. Bowden explains what Columbus's actual accomplishments were in the context of his time and demolishes the multiculturalist myths now being used to smear and denigrate both Columbus and America.

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Yes, I remember, too. What a positive, shining world it seemed to be.

For whom? Please recall that the earliest explorations and colonizations were done by the Spaniards, who brought disease, cruelty, slavery and religious persecution to the New World. Please recall that Columbus and his expeditions were bought and paid for by Ferdinand and Isabella who got the money by looting the Jews they expelled from Spain. That does not sound too positive and shining to me.

It seems you forget that most of the world was just coming out of the "middle ages" and to blame Columbus for something he played no part in is unjust. Did Columbus cause the fall of Rome and the darkness that followed? Did Columbus start all the religious persecutions that went on during his time? Was there no disease in the new found world? The answer to all of the questions is, NO. Did Columbus do things wrong? Yes, and there is no reason to overlook those items. But, when looked at in proper context, that being the time of his travels and other situations that were beyond his control, what he accomplished is worthy of praise.

So, I say thank you Christopher Columbus for having the courage and pertenacity to never give up on your goals. Even thoguh Christopher Columbus never found the route he was searching for, I think he found something better.

I don't blame anything on Columbus. He got the funding for his expedition where he could. It is the 'positive and shining" part I object to. When dealing with historical events one should deal with them in the entirety. -Look at the consequences-. Columbus wanted a percentage of any wealth extracted from what he believed to be "the Indies" which is perfectly reasonable given the risks and costs of the expedition. What he inadvertently brought was death and ruination.

I also ask for whom was the expedition "positive and shining". Certainly not for the locals. Columbus sailed the ocean blue for adventure and profit. What it led to was a dreadful interaction between the Spaniards and the locals. I am sure Columbus himself did not have slavery in mind. Rather, he had gold and adventure in mind plus the fancy title --Admiral of the Ocean Sea.

Columbus was a victim of his own participation. On his third voyage he was brought back to Spain in chains.

Here is the bottom line. Columbus, whether he intended to or not, opened to New World to Spanish thugs. Much of what is wrong with Latin America today flows from that unfortunate interaction. It also affects us, since we share a 2000 mile border with a Latin American country.

As I pointed out, the Dutch did not interact nearly as badly in their trade and colonization expeditions. The Dutch and the English improved the world (in the medium and long run). The Spaniards just looted and ruined it. The British did their thing too, much of it constructive. We share a 3000 mile border with a former British colony and it has not hurt either the U.S. nor Canada. In fact -we- are a former British colony!

If the British and the Dutch got the the New World first and strongest, our history would be much different and, I think, much better. My main misgiving with Columbus is that he sailed on behalf of Spain.

ruveyn

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Ruveyn, I do not deny that Spain was probably the worst of the European countries at the time of Columbus' sailing. They were more religious than most of the other European countries and thought that looting was a form of wealth production and hence why they soon lost their stolen wealth later. But, Christopher Columbus' arrest was brought up on charges of his governorship of the new found land of which he had very little skills at and was not his desire to fill. On top of that it was the local pompous Spainards that brought him up on charges of which he was later discharged of.

Some of the essence of what makes Columbus worthy of praise is that he did what most others were fearful of, sail unknown open seas while facing immense difficulties. Columbus did his sailing without knowing his exact longitude as it would be about two and a half centuries before John Harrison created his clocks and watch. While many good sea captains were dying on the open seas from scurvy or other hardships he sailed it according to what he thought was correct.

From your statements it seems that you see the essence of Christopher Columbus as negative, and I do not.

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If the British and the Dutch got the the New World first and strongest, our history would be much different and, I think, much better. My main misgiving with Columbus is that he sailed on behalf of Spain.

I agree with this. Columbus the courageous adventurer merits great praise, but Catholic Spain was a plague on the New World that persists to this day and for a long time yet to come.

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The Dutch and the English were far more reasonable. When the Dutch and English landed they came -to live-, and generally not to loot.

Without Columbus finding and leading the way, the Dutch and the English would never have come here.m Thus, we have Columbus to thank for the accomplishments of the Dutch and the English too.

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From your statements it seems that you see the essence of Christopher Columbus as negative, and I do not.

For Columbus the explorer, I have admiration. It took guts and an almost fanatical determination to make such a voyage. For Columbus the enabler of Spanish destruction, I have misgivings. It wasn't Columbus' fault, of course. To make his voyage he had to get the funding somehow.

ruveyn

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The Dutch and the English were far more reasonable. When the Dutch and English landed they came -to live-, and generally not to loot.

Without Columbus finding and leading the way, the Dutch and the English would never have come here.m Thus, we have Columbus to thank for the accomplishments of the Dutch and the English too.

The steamship would have been invented in any case. Trade to the east around the horn of Africa would have been plenty of incentive to develop such sea voyaging technology. Given that, eventually exploration of the oceans would have taken place. There was already evidence of land 3000 miles west of Europe. Vikings made landfall in what is now Newfoundland several hundred years before Columbus. With steamships this would have been pursued as a matter of curiosity and North and South America would have been found eventually. It would have been later, of course, but it would have happened.

ruveyn

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The steamship would have been invented in any case. Trade to the east around the horn of Africa would have been plenty of incentive to develop such sea voyaging technology. Given that, eventually exploration of the oceans would have taken place. There was already evidence of land 3000 miles west of Europe. Vikings made landfall in what is now Newfoundland several hundred years before Columbus. With steamships this would have been pursued as a matter of curiosity and North and South America would have been found eventually. It would have been later, of course, but it would have happened.

Tons of things could have happened but in reality did not actually happen. That is why most rational people give credit to those that actually did do something and not those that say they could have done something.

Tons of football teams could have beaten the New England Patriots last year but only one team did. And that is why the New York Giants deserve the title of Super Bowl Champs for the year and no one else.

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Yes, I remember, too. What a positive, shining world it seemed to be.

For whom? Please recall that the earliest explorations and colonizations were done by the Spaniards, who brought disease, cruelty, slavery and religious persecution to the New World. Please recall that Columbus and his expeditions were bought and paid for by Ferdinand and Isabella who got the money by looting the Jews they expelled from Spain. That does not sound too positive and shining to me.

The Dutch and the English were far more reasonable. When the Dutch and English landed they came -to live-, and generally not to loot. There are some notable exceptions however: for example Cecil Rhodes.

The Dutch were the best of the European colonizers. Their main interest was trade and commerce, rather than domination and conquest. In the 17 and 18-th centuries the Dutch extended liberty and tolerance to divergent political and religious views. Which is why people like Spinoza could live and not be bothered too much by the Powers That Were. The Hollanders are still an easygoing bunch.

ruveyn

Haste makes waste. My response to Paul---"What a positive, shining world it seemed to be"---was in regard to our memories of the _celebration_ of Columbus Day and the state of our culture then which rightfully praised a real hero.

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Yes, I remember, too. What a positive, shining world it seemed to be.

For whom?

---------------

ruveyn

For you.

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Yes, I remember, too. What a positive, shining world it seemed to be.

For whom?

For you.

And for the Indians who then had a chance to participate in a growing civilization like other human beings instead of remaining condemned to the stagnation of primitive tribalism as their ancestors had been for thousands of years.

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Yea, Columbus!

Nay, Columbus, you did wrong

To sail with your vision strong.

The pure poor pitiful savage

Was not ready to be a man.

He was not ready for civilization,

He was not ready for property

Or for individual rights.

He wasn't ready for anything

But unchanging ignorance.

But you, you didn't know he was there.

So you get blamed for your ignorance

While the savage gets praised for his.

Why?

There are those who hate will and vision,

Those who hate thought and pride,

Those who hate the tryer for ever having tried.

There are pure savages among us still.

Yea, Columbus, you did right

To sail with your manly might,

To brave all the wild unknown

And follow your mind alone!

____________________________

Brian Faulkner

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And for the Indians who then had a chance to participate in a growing civilization like other human beings instead of remaining condemned to the stagnation of primitive tribalism as their ancestors had been for thousands of years.

Last year I read The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson and was pleased to see that he had a very benevolent attitude toward the Indians. He noted that at the time, tribes were dying out, mostly due to infighting. It was US protection that saved the civilized tribes and gave them the tools to progress past savagery. It's ironic that the Indians are now known as those who peacably "lived off the land", but it was Americans who showed them both peace and agriculture.

If Columbus had not discovered America, a very different future would have unfolded, and possibly one in which the descendants of those Indians would not be here today.

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It may no longer be fashionable to celebrate Columbus Day, but I like to remember that Columbus Day used to be a great national day for celebration when I was a kid.

Christopher Columbus was a hero. On Columbus Day, therefore, let us celebrate.

Yes, I remember, too. What a positive, shining world it seemed to be.

If you're ever at the the Columbus Library in Seville, it's worth looking at the Columbus marginalia in Marco Polo's account of his travels. Columbus Day is still a day of celebration for any person who fails to find the unknown daunting. Happy Columbus Day!

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If you're ever at the the Columbus Library in Seville, it's worth looking at the Columbus marginalia in Marco Polo's account of his travels. Columbus Day is still a day of celebration for any person who fails to find the unknown daunting. Happy Columbus Day!

Have you studied the voyages of a Zheng He, the Chinese mariner? His sea voyages carried out over a twenty year period, in the Pacific, were much more technically advanced than the Columbus expeditions. Zheng He's treasure ships were 400 feet long and 150 feet in the beam and had nine masts. His fleet consisted of over 35 such ships and involved the participation of over 20,000 sailors, soldiers, artisans and scholars. Zheng He did this 80 years before Columbus under the Ming dynasty in China. One of Zheng's treasure ships could have carried any one of Columbus' ships as a life boat.

You might also find the pre-Columbian expeditions of the Polynesian mariners interesting. They voyaged all the way from Tahiti to Hawaii in hundred foot long double hulled ships. They also learned how to navigate without using the North Star (there is no fixed star in the Southern Hemisphere). The navigation techniques of the Polynesian sailors is very sophisticated, using non-fixed constellations at night and sun navigation by day. They also were close students of currents, winds, tides, and the flight of sea birds and used these as navigational guides. They could reliably voyage between Tahiti and Hawaii and back, over 5000 miles. That is longer than Columbus sailed.

ruveyn

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If you're ever at the the Columbus Library in Seville, it's worth looking at the Columbus marginalia in Marco Polo's account of his travels. Columbus Day is still a day of celebration for any person who fails to find the unknown daunting. Happy Columbus Day!

Have you studied the voyages of a Zheng He, the Chinese mariner? His sea voyages carried out over a twenty year period, in the Pacific, were much more technically advanced than the Columbus expeditions. Zheng He's treasure ships were 400 feet long and 150 feet in the beam and had nine masts. His fleet consisted of over 35 such ships and involved the participation of over 20,000 sailors, soldiers, artisans and scholars. Zheng He did this 80 years before Columbus under the Ming dynasty in China. One of Zheng's treasure ships could have carried any one of Columbus' ships as a life boat.

You might also find the pre-Columbian expeditions of the Polynesian mariners interesting. They voyaged all the way from Tahiti to Hawaii in hundred foot long double hulled ships. They also learned how to navigate without using the North Star (there is no fixed star in the Southern Hemisphere). The navigation techniques of the Polynesian sailors is very sophisticated, using non-fixed constellations at night and sun navigation by day. They also were close students of currents, winds, tides, and the flight of sea birds and used these as navigational guides. They could reliably voyage between Tahiti and Hawaii and back, over 5000 miles. That is longer than Columbus sailed.

ruveyn

Most of this is unfounded exaggeration.

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Most of this is unfounded exaggeration.

And all of it is irrelevant.

It is what Western philosophy achieved on this continent that makes the discovery of this continent by Columbus one of the most important developments in history. Who bumped into this land mass first couldn't matter less.

(I'm posting quotes from Bowden's work on Columbus later this week.)

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Who bumped into this land mass first couldn't matter less.

I love this line. I picture a raft full of Polynesians circa A.D. 1092 (with apologies to anyone who speaks whatever language they speak in Polynesia):

Poly: Olymok wa tundgen? [Nice day ain't it?]

Nesia: Palaolu, san mulukai. [i dunno, looks like rain.]

Poly: Mowunka mai tufu belawi foala. [Good thing we packed umbrellas.]

[bUMP!]

Nesia: What the...? [Hasau utu...?]

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If you're ever at the the Columbus Library in Seville, it's worth looking at the Columbus marginalia in Marco Polo's account of his travels. Columbus Day is still a day of celebration for any person who fails to find the unknown daunting. Happy Columbus Day!

Have you studied the voyages of a Zheng He, the Chinese mariner? His sea voyages carried out over a twenty year period, in the Pacific, were much more technically advanced than the Columbus expeditions. Zheng He's treasure ships were 400 feet long and 150 feet in the beam and had nine masts. His fleet consisted of over 35 such ships and involved the participation of over 20,000 sailors, soldiers, artisans and scholars. Zheng He did this 80 years before Columbus under the Ming dynasty in China. One of Zheng's treasure ships could have carried any one of Columbus' ships as a life boat.

You might also find the pre-Columbian expeditions of the Polynesian mariners interesting. They voyaged all the way from Tahiti to Hawaii in hundred foot long double hulled ships. They also learned how to navigate without using the North Star (there is no fixed star in the Southern Hemisphere). The navigation techniques of the Polynesian sailors is very sophisticated, using non-fixed constellations at night and sun navigation by day. They also were close students of currents, winds, tides, and the flight of sea birds and used these as navigational guides. They could reliably voyage between Tahiti and Hawaii and back, over 5000 miles. That is longer than Columbus sailed.

ruveyn

Yes, but this is irrelevant to the discovery of America. The Polynesians didn't discover America. And the Chinese didn't discover America, despite their advanced shipping. In the period during which Chinese shipping became advanced, two factions in China fought for power, and the winners shut down shipping in China. AND, all of China submitted to this, sufficiently to prevent the kinds of voyages of discovery that were sponsored from Portugal and Spain, which was the reason that new lands were discovered by Europeans, and not by the Chinese.

Also, in order to decide that Columbus was bad because the Spaniards brought destruction to the cultures they found, I would have to know that the cultures they destroyed should have been preserved instead. And in order for me to think that, I would have to be convinced that the culture(s) were at least as good as, or better than the Spaniards, AND that the Spaniards had the requisite knowledge to prevent the spread of the diseases they brought with them.

But neither of these are true. The cultures the Spaniards conquered, and the people who were wiped out by disease, were even more primitive and brutal than the Spaniards. I judge that by their routine use of human sacrifice and cannibalism. And if it makes any difference to you, some of the area tribes helped the Spaniards to conquer the Aztecs, presumably because they hated Aztec rule.

I mean, I don't think that the Spaniards represented some terrific cultural advance. But the Spanish were the ones who sponsored Columbus, and Columbus discovered America -- which is a great and historic deed - whether or not one likes it.

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If you're ever at the the Columbus Library in Seville, it's worth looking at the Columbus marginalia in Marco Polo's account of his travels. Columbus Day is still a day of celebration for any person who fails to find the unknown daunting. Happy Columbus Day!

Have you studied the voyages of a Zheng He, the Chinese mariner? His sea voyages carried out over a twenty year period, in the Pacific, were much more technically advanced than the Columbus expeditions. Zheng He's treasure ships were 400 feet long and 150 feet in the beam and had nine masts. His fleet consisted of over 35 such ships and involved the participation of over 20,000 sailors, soldiers, artisans and scholars. Zheng He did this 80 years before Columbus under the Ming dynasty in China. One of Zheng's treasure ships could have carried any one of Columbus' ships as a life boat.

You might also find the pre-Columbian expeditions of the Polynesian mariners interesting. They voyaged all the way from Tahiti to Hawaii in hundred foot long double hulled ships. They also learned how to navigate without using the North Star (there is no fixed star in the Southern Hemisphere). The navigation techniques of the Polynesian sailors is very sophisticated, using non-fixed constellations at night and sun navigation by day. They also were close students of currents, winds, tides, and the flight of sea birds and used these as navigational guides. They could reliably voyage between Tahiti and Hawaii and back, over 5000 miles. That is longer than Columbus sailed.

ruveyn

And Zheng He would not have had the courage to sail to across the sea in a "life boat".

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And Zheng He would not have had the courage to sail to across the sea in a "life boat".

True. He chose to cross vast distances in an ocean liner. He commanded a high tech task force. Columbus command a crew on the edge of mutiny. And when Columbus made landfall, he did not have the least idea where he was. Columbus thought he was in Asia. Zheng -knew- he was in Asia. Columbus died believing that he had found the short way to Asia. He didn't.

ruveyn

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