There is a recent movement to do away with Columbus Day as a holiday to celebrate. Columbus is denounced by some as a genocidal murderer and, worst of all, a man who did not even discover America.
The charge of genocide has merit. However, if we are to judge and condemn Columbus by today’s standards and not by those of his own time, then perhaps we should not celebrate the Fourth of July, in view of our genocidal treatment of the Native American.
To blame Columbus for the past and present evils in the Americas is to blame Christ for the Inquisition, or Marx for the crimes of Lenin or Stalin.
Columbus’ voyage across the Atlantic marked the beginning of the most important encounter of places and peoples in human history. And as for others preceding him, it would not matter one whit to our history if they hadn’t come at all.
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The answer lies in the question: What is the true nature of a discovery? As for those with earlier claims or knowledge, Arthur Hugh Clough address the issue in a poem:
What if wise men as far back as Ptolemy
Judged the earth like an orange was round,
None of them ever said, “Come along, follow me,
Sail to the West and the East will be found.”
Anthony Liotti, Sunny Isles Beach