Reflections on Columbus Day, Columbus, and Political Power
by Dennis Jamison – 10/13/2020
In reflecting on Columbus Day, which is now only sometimes celebrated by a few brave citizens, people across the nation may be surprised that what they have learned about Christopher Columbus in school is more than likely quite incomplete. A more complete understanding of the history of Columbus would express much about the current fight between the common people of the United States and the autocratic politicians they elect in election after election. People are lied to, they believe the lies and promises made by liars, and they trust their lies enough to elect them to office, and then they discover the lies and the true nature of the politicians they elect. Some politicians even lie about their support of free and fair elections because they were not elected in a fair election. But, once they take office, not much can be done.
This is an historical cycle that has existed in the United States for decades now, and the cycle has been mesmerizing. However, at the beginning of the new millennium, free and fair elections came under such great scrutiny that the outcome of the election had to be taken to the United States Supreme Court with the Bush – Gore presidential race. Americans who paid attention at the time to all the legal tactics and political wrangling are still unsure of what happened in that election. It is highly likely that the Democrats are attempting to steer this year’s election into such a legal quagmire in an effort to steal the election from the American people.
There are Democrats who still feel that George W. Bush stole the election from Al Gore in 2000.
There are some Democrat leaders who yearn for version 2.0 of that outcome only with Joe Biden coming out as victor. The Supreme Court decided in Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98, the Florida recount nightmare. With the mail in ballot debacle looming on the horizon in many states, it is likely one of various scenarios the Democrats will likely employ to enable Joe Biden to win the presidential election in 2020. If the 2016 presidential election provides an indication of how far the Democrat leaders will go to negate or neutralize a free and fair election, this year’s contest will push their political maneuvers into a whole new realm.
What does all this have to do with Columbus Day? Modern day lessons can be learned from the political twists and the exercise of raw power despite the reality that over the last forty or fifty years, numerous groups or organizations have disparaged celebrations of Columbus Day with growing contempt because of the mass genocide attributed to Columbus when he encountered the Native Americans in the Caribbean. It seems that the pendulum of political correctness has swung far to the left and away from the popularity the Genovese explorer previously enjoyed. Much of this has to do with who writes his story.
Certainly, Columbus receives much less respect today as Progressive revisionist historians had increasingly painted Columbus as the poster boy for all the evil that befell the Native Americans in the “New World.” This served as a basis for the contemporary systemic racist rants by Leftist professors and the Marxists who refer to themselves as “Black Lives Matter.” Even today, the extension of this concept has manifested in the efforts to replace Columbus Day with Native American Day. The irony in that is that such a day already exists. In fact, Native American Heritage Month already exists. The point is not to celebrate the Native Americans; the point is to deface and destroy the legacy of Christopher Columbus.
Students in this day who learn about Christopher Columbus, must themselves negotiate some tempestuous waters of contemporary historical revisionist “scholarship” bearing a definite political or ideological perspective regarding the Admiral’s journeys to the West. But the contemporary progressive revisionist history leaves some important history out of their narrative — much like the infamous “1619 Project” leaves a lot of history out of the ridiculous narrative. Some of that history that is conveniently left out, provides some key lessons to be learned from the Italian sailor. And, they are not the lessons from the academically – initiated character assassination of Christopher Columbus. Progressive revisionist history detracts from a more fundamental reality that should be important to all Americans – even Native Americans.
Also, while it may be important for people to recognize Columbus for what he truly was (he was no saint), it is also important to realize that he was led to believe lies from the very king that enabled his fame – how Columbus became a pawn in a king’s game. In the United States, citizens should appreciate the value of living in a free society and being able to speak freely, assemble peaceably for protests, publish incendiary psuedo-intellectually based materials, and worship the deity of choice – or worship one’s right to believe in no deity as well. Yet, Columbus, nor any of his contemporaries living in Spain in 1492, did not enjoy such liberty.
Columbus and his contemporaries lived under an absolute monarchy. Americans often lose perspective when dealing with the concept of kings. It is understandable that King George III was viewed as a tyrant by the Founding Fathers because a study of U.S. history makes this point clear. Yet, understanding the concept of kings as ruthless dictators may seem foreign to Americans today. Most Americans have never lived under an absolute despot; thus, it is hard to fully comprehend the vulnerability of Columbus when he submitted himself to the Spanish crown. Yet, the COVID-19 scare in 2020 has brought out the worst in some politicians who have been entrusted with some power.
Columbus’ desire to find a new route to Cathay and in the process obtain power, status and wealth led him to contract his services with any government which would provide the means to pursue his dreams. However, many Americans would be surprised to learn that on his third journey to the New World, Columbus was arrested. In 1500, Columbus was put in chains, and taken back to Spain to stand trial for his “crimes.” King Ferdinand had enacted plans for Columbus to be stripped of his title, his position, and his wealth. Why?
First, Columbus was not a Spanish noble. Second, he was an Italian sailor with big dreams. Third, as a commoner, he had no title to be governor over anyone, especially Spanish nobles. He had only the word of King Ferdinand, the promises that he would be considered “Admiral of the Oceans,” governor over the lands he discovered, and a portion of the wealth to be earned from his discoveries. Unfortunately for the Italian sailor, Columbus only got “in the way.” He was on the receiving end of the increasing dissatisfaction and outright animosity of the noble colonists. Rising malice toward Columbus possibly lingered because nobles may have felt deceived by his exaggerated accounts of the abundance of gold.
As early as 1495, the Spanish Crown attempted to get a better handle on its royal “investment” by sending a commission to report on the Spanish colony and to judge the governing capabilities of Columbus. Returning to Spain in 1496, Columbus managed to appease the royals. However, the king waited two years before sponsoring the third voyage. While in Spain for the two years, the king used the “charges” against the sailor to insist that Columbus be a better governor. The king appointed Francisco de Bobadilla as an “administrator.” Bobadilla, a Spanish nobleman and a loyal knight who fought in the wars against the Moors, was familiar with court politics. He was quite capable. It was Bobadilla that had Columbus arrested, but it took him two years to build his “case.”
Christopher Columbus had been in Spain since 1496; but, upon returning in 1498, he found that tensions against him, still high. The noblemen eventually accused him. Their complaints to King Ferdinand are mostly the same crimes repeated by revisionist historians and their adherents today. Interestingly, after Columbus had returned to the Caribbean, King Ferdinand appointed Bobadilla as the replacement for the admiral as governor and chief justice of Hispaniola in May of 1499.
Only eight years after his discovery of the New World, Columbus had outlived his usefulness to the Spanish Crown. He was lied to, he believed the lies and promises made by King Ferdinand and Bobadilla, and his trust in such lies led him to personal disrepute, not only in his time, but in this time. He completely trusted in the king the way we trust or simply obey government officials. Columbus kept believing in his king, even though the king was taking back everything he promised to give to him. And, the real difference between then and now, is that we elect our despots.