(A historical review with a satirical touch and Halloween twist)
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Columbus Day celebrations in America date back to 1792, when New York City celebrated the 300th anniversary of Columbus’s landfall on October 12; the darling of progressives, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, proclaimed Columbus Day a national holiday in 1934—one of the current ten official federal holidays.
Last October, a no-less progressive President Joe Biden signed the first presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This commemoration-turned-holiday began in 1977 to honor Native American history and culture.
It isn’t easy to overvalue the significance of Columbus’s landing in the New World. But, unfortunately, not all turned out to be hunky dory in that East–West encounter. Without Doctor Fauci’s supervision, its aftershocks included the unintentional exchange of pathogens—an example of the spread of diseases by early globalization. As a result, the Old World’s yellow fever and smallpox decimated the natives, who had no established immunity to these plagues. In turn, Columbus’s and his crew’s assumed not very puritanical behavior, invigorated by the tribal nudity of the “Indian” beauties, helped (according to the prevalent medical view) transport back to Europe the novel (to it) bacillus of a potent and dreadful disease.While its cure was found only relatively recently, in the interim, the famous French author Maupassant and many other renowned and non-renowned personalities suffered and died from the contagious affliction they obtained by means that were apparently not much different from those used by Columbus and his sailors.
However, barring all the woes for the indigenous populations that ensued in the immediate aftermath of Columbus’s arrival to the New World (to be later called America), the clash of civilizations (European and indigenous) resulted, in broader terms, in a boon for the world and the natives in particular. At the very least, the encounter of Spaniards with the natives, although not peaceful, led to the eradication of the brutal and violent practice of human sacrifice in Mesoamerican and South American cultures (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_sacrifice_in_pre-Columbian_cultures).
In addition, it introduced Europeans to such goodies as potatoes, tomatoes, and corn (maize). Moreover, the goodies also included tobacco—the aromatic but addictive staff. Despite its reputation as a non-healthy substance, tobacco smoking made people look more significant. Perhaps Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin would have hardly impressed people in the way they did had they not found a charming way to smoke—Churchill’s Cuban cigars, Romeo y Julieta and La Aroma, and Stalin’s pipe, filled with his preferred Herzegovina Flor tobacco.
In spite of the chutzpah surrounding the brave but allegedly sometimes cruel Commodore Christopher Columbus and his explorations, the thankful potato and tomato eaters and tobacco smokers kept erecting monuments to him. However, something has recently happened that forced some of these usually law-abiding consumers of the products of Columbus’ transatlantic voyages to accost, decimate, or remove the monuments of the intrepid Italian** explorer and navigator. So, what is behind the anti-Columbus movement? That is the question.
It is known that Columbus was brought in chains back to Spain after his third voyage with charges of incompetent governorship and tyrannical administration against the Spanish settlers and natives in the colonies of the New World. After six weeks of imprisonment, the charges against him (and his brothers) were evidently dropped or reduced, and King Ferdinand set them free but stripped Columbus of his lofty rank and titles of “Admiral of the Ocean Sea,” viceroy, and governorship of the new colonies, and refused to provide him with a substantial amount of previously agreed-upon monetary claims. However, the details of Columbus’s restitutions differ among the various sources. At the same time, the accuracy of the accusations and the neutrality of the investigations have been disputed by historians, given the anti-Italian sentiment of the Spaniards and considering the desire of Columbus’s investigator to take over his position. Other explanations for Columbus’s arrest and liberation exist, presenting him as a double agent for the Portuguese and Spanish crowns, for example.
Moreover, after his disastrous fourth voyage to the West Indies in 1502, the navigator, who called himself “Christbearer” and was driven to spread Christianity, died in 1506 at the age of 54, succumbing to various diseases but still believing that he had discovered the southern edge of India. Overall, it appears that Columbus received a measure of retribution for the alleged misdeeds in his lifetime. However, if so, what is really behind today’s anti-Columbus monument actions?
Discounting the notion that these actions merely reflect a fashionable cancel culture attitude and attributing them to the manifestation of deeper meaning, the author offers two possible explanations for the events. One of them was discussed earlier in an essay (available at https://kontinentusa.com/val-dunaevsky-the-unsuspected-mundane-reasons-for-the-war-on-some-monuments-during-this-years-hot-summer-a-satire/) in which he advanced a theory rooted in the economic instability of our day. Specifically, a sharp rise in spinach prices in the summer of 2020 triggered a wave of anti-Columbus pogroms. The article went on to describe the plausible intricate mechanisms of the Columbus–spinach connection.I suppose some may find this proposed explanation of the Columbus monument batterings a little tenuous. In that case, the author’s other, and in essence, more formidable conjecture about the matter appears to hit closer to home in explaining the discussed strange phenomenon. However, this option and its analysis may be frowned upon by our over-secularized society because it invokes the gods of the Aztecs, Maya, Incas, and other indigenous populations, to which the Spanish colonizers had banned human sacrifice. Moreover, this option assumes that the mob’s violence against the statues is but the revenge of the bloodthirsty deities. If so, it should be an eerie reminder that no good deeds are left unpunished.
**Mainstream historians consider Columbus’s ethnic/national origin to be murky. Although Portugal, Spain, Italy, and even Greece claim him as their own, there are still several downright bizarre theories of his origin. However, these are of the sort that the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky was related to Colonel Sanders (the KFC founder) based on their remote facial similarity. Nevertheless, according to Tobias Brinkmann, Ph.D., a professor of Jewish studies and history at Penn State University, Columbus’s often-discussed Jewish roots, which exhibit an abundance of circumstantial evidence, are “probably no more than a powerful myth.” However, one of the theories of Columbus’s origin (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0yoVsZfypQ) posits that he was an illegitimate child of a Portuguese prince, Duke of Beja, and a Jewish mother, a daughter of Portuguese navigator Zarco of Jewish Converso origin. The mystery of Columbus’s origins remains.
* Valery (“Val”) Dunaevsky (1942) is a successful mechanical engineer/scientist and history buff who knows how to connect the dots and uses different kinds of cognition attributed to both the left and right hemispheres of the brain when investigating reality.
Copyright © 2022 by Valery V. Dunaevsky. All rights reserved.
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