Columbus, Racism, & Protests

Wealthy football players claim America is oppressive. Their protest over the national anthem goes viral. The nation gets thrown into turmoil.

Columbus Day arrives. We have our annual Columbus-was-a-genocidal-maniac theme trumpeted from the mouths of those who, like the football players, believe America is the bastion of systemic racism.

As a historian, I know that our history includes some terrible things. Yet we need some sense of comparative analysis, not emotional outbursts, to deal with what has happened. We also need to see more clearly that many of those things we don’t like have been corrected.

And as a historian, I also know that not many people are well versed on that history. They simply follow the lead of some who claim they know the truth, even though often they are following a political agenda, not truth.

Take Columbus. Who really knows that one of his prime motivations was to spread Christianity? Oh, I know—he was also vainglorious and coveted rank and honor. He loved the title bestowed: Admiral of the Ocean Sea. But how many know that when he returned for his second voyage that all the men he had left in the New World had been slaughtered and that another native chief joined him in attacking those who committed that slaughter?

We have a much-too-romanticized view of what life was like among those natives. Jesus’s comment about how there will always be wars and rumors of wars applied among them as well as European nations. They were not as innocent as sometimes portrayed. They connived politically for advantage over other tribes and engaged in types of behavior not countenanced today.

In other words, they were people just like all other peoples—and where there are people, there are problems.

Just a hint: don’t get caught in a war; your end will be slow and torturous.

Back to Columbus. Here’s a comic I found a number of years ago that probably is closer to the truth than anything nowadays:

I’m no apologist for Columbus Day. I can take it or leave it. But neither do I bow to a modern political correctness that can only see evil in the arrival of the Europeans. I can draw distinctions between those who carried out evil and those who didn’t.

When it comes to American history, I can decry the racism that led to slavery, while simultaneously rejoice that America became one of those nations that put an end to the practice.

I can clearly see that the segregation that followed slavery was evil, yet I can enthusiastically applaud the end of that particular evil empire.

I know that the inner cities of America are a place of disadvantage for success in life. Yet I also know that government programs to “help” have only led to the disintegration of the black family structure, thereby creating more poverty. When over 70% of children born in the inner cities grow up without a father, consequences follow. God intended that all children have both a father and a mother.

So, in an ironic twist, it’s all that government help that has created an atmosphere that some see as oppressive.

If the family structure were to be reestablished and genuine capitalism be allowed to flourish (not the crony type that dominates cities run by so-called progressives), I believe we would see much greater prosperity across the board in our society and much less rationale for the protests we see now.

Where do those foundational beliefs in the necessity of a strong family and a vibrant, free economy come from? They are Biblical principles. Only a return to those principles will bring this about.

Redeeming Rutherford B. Hayes

Last week, President Obama made fun of one of his predecessors, Rutherford B. Hayes, who served as president from 1877-1881. In a campaign speech—which is the description of any and all speeches he makes—Obama referred to people who disagree with his energy policies as those who would have been founding members of the Flat Earth Society if they had lived at the time of Columbus. Now, never mind that no one of any knowledge during Columbus’s life span believed the earth was flat; he thought he had a good line, so he used it. Who cares about historical accuracy?

Then he used the former president as one of his foils: “Rutherford B. Hayes reportedly said about the telephone, ‘It’s a great invention, but who would ever want to use one?’ That’s why he’s not on Mt. Rushmore because he’s looking backwards. He’s not looking forwards. He’s explaining why we can’t do something, instead of why we can do something.”

Well, Mr. President, after that display of erudition, don’t expect to see your face on Mt. Rushmore either.

Here are the facts: Hayes installed the first telephone in the White House, it having been invented only the year before he took office. That’s hardly the picture of someone who is dragging his feet and looking backwards, is it? He also invited Thomas Edison to the White House to demonstrate the phonograph. Flat Earth Society member? Really?

Some excellent responses to Obama’s foolish comments have been making the rounds. Here’s a montage, sort of, that I’m particularly fond of:

Then there are his “advanced, forward-thinking” energy policies. Forget oil, right? Who needs that? He has a better idea.

His promotion of “new” cars has been a real spectacle as well:

It’s not that I don’t believe in researching into alternatives, but government can’t make it happen by decree. The market will drive [pardon the pun] this development. Get the government out of the way and we might be surprised at the inventiveness that will rise to the surface.

In the meantime, Mr. President, find some new researchers and writers for your speeches. The ones you have are pretty pathetic.