Columbus Day 2021 mostly went unnoticed. The holiday, once an iconic staple on the American calendar, has descended into apathy or antipathy. Those Americans with Italian family names (notice I did not use the woke hyphenated “Italian-American”) argue that it is the only holiday celebrating Italian heritage in a country where they accounted for over 10% of American soldiers in both world wars.
Although attacks on Columbus Day are only secondary attacks against those with Italian names, the depth of the hatred of Columbus has darker roots.
The hatred for Columbus is often justified in some minds by the excesses engaged in by European colonization. This includes the laundry list of human rights abuses and exploitation that occurred during the Age of Exploration and Discovery.
The center of gravity of this criticism emanated from Howard Zinn’s, A People’s History of the United States, a Marxist, distorted, ideologically driven fiction designed to belittle American civilization.
Zinn was not demonizing Columbus merely because he represented everything Zinn hated, namely Christian civilization, but felt that if he could bring Columbus down, he could cause a domino effect through the panoply of American history. Destroy the first American hero, and you poison all the fruit from that tree.
In other words, by destroying Columbus, you have light lifting when it comes to Washington and Lincoln. Zinn and many modern academics embrace an Orwellian view of the universe that is so driven by a monolithic ideology that it easily rivals the most intense religious zealotry.
It should go without saying that Columbus represented his time, and any attempt to use a 21st-century yardstick is childish at best and dishonest at worst. Further, it reduces his achievement to nothing.
This week, Star Trek merged with reality as the actor William Shatner went into space.
Star Trek of the mid-20th century was the fictional Columbus story of its time. Thus, the hero of many a boy from both the boomer and Generation X cohort, Captain James T. Kirk, became a new kind of hero as the 90-year-old William Shatner did on October 13.
Kirk/Shatner are heroes in a society engaged in a civil war about the role of heroes. Columbus was a hero.
He defied the thinking of his time, defied the odds, defied the tyranny of small minds, and through his faith in God, embarked on an adventure that changed the entire course of human history for the better.
His voyages led to the colonization of America (named notably after another Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci) and the creation of the United States. Columbus seized his destiny, and no attempt by lesser mortals who are best known for virtue-signaling can change that.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan said it best: “He was a dreamer, a man of vision and courage, a man filled with hope for the future and with the determination to cast off for the unknown and sail into uncharted seas for the joy of finding whatever was there. Put it all together, and you might say that Columbus was the inventor of the American dream.”
This is represented by the iconic photograph taken in 1992 of replicas of the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria sailing by the Kennedy Space Center launchpad.
America stands at the crossroads of a new age of discovery, exploration, and expansion. The new distant shore is the Moon and Mars. We are in this race, as Spain was with Portugal in the 15th century, and the U.S. was with the Soviet Union in the 20th century.
Twenty-first century America is in a race with a myriad of potential adversaries that want to create a new order of control by seeking dominance in space. It will require America to harness the heroic qualities of Columbus, unabashedly, to emerge victorious, not only for itself but for all free peoples.
This piece originally ran on NewsMax on Friday, 15 October 2021.