Columbus Day seems more about the arguments against Columbus and eye-rolling at those liberals celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead. Last year, I showed how people misuse words like genocide and terrorism, and how many use misguided presentism and misguided politics to misjudge Columbus. I invite you to read it again, especially because you’ll likely hear the same tired arguments over and over again throughout the years. This year, I wanted to make a positive case for Columbus Day.
Columbus Day was officially created by Franklin Roosevelt in 1937, and he hoped at the time that “each recurrence of Columbus Day brings to all of us a greater appreciation of the heritage we have received as a result of the faith and courage and fortitude of the Genoese navigator and his brave companions.” In short, this day honors the heritage of Italian Americans. For people who supposedly care the most about minorities, it is ironic that they end up attacking a holiday created to celebrate a marginalized minority. But Italian Americans no longer count in the intersectionality race, except in the minds of Democrat politicians in areas that contain large Italian American communities.
Celebrating Columbus also recognizes the spirit of bravery and exploration. Sailing was difficult enough in ancient seas, but Columbus sailed farther and in a direction that many Europeans thought foolhardy or incredibly dangerous at best. Like the best entrepreneurs in Western history, he saw a problem. In this case it was a circuitous route along the coast of Africa, then through the Indian Ocean and territory held by rivals with few friendly ports. Instead, he found a sponsor willing to finance the dangerous journey that sought another route, and his daring paid off for the sponsor and the entire world.
Finally, we should celebrate that Columbus helped spread Western Civilization. This invites cries of colonialism, genocide, and even terrorism from the usual critics. Western Civilization does have its share of flaws, but these sins are not unique to Western Civilization, and the West is rather unique in that they provided much of the principles that fixed those ails as well. Free speech, free press, capitalism, and a sense of due process and jurisprudence (except in the case of Supreme Court nominees) enabled remarkable reforms. British abolitionists inspired their government to spend small fortunes of money eradicating the slave trade in Africa. American abolitionists helped inspire the Civil War and first Civil Rights Acts that advanced the freedom and status of blacks.
I often look at a map and notice places around the world that have relatively stable, peaceful, and free governments and prosperous people. America, Canada, Bermuda, Belize, Kenya, South Africa, India, Hong Kong, and Australia turned into prosperous places largely because the British introduced Western-style principles. Instead of a constant drum beat of negatives about the West, there is plenty to praise including the spread of Western principles brought by Columbus.
It’s true that Western Civilization has its share of flaws, and Columbus was a hugely imperfect individual. But his holiday represents the celebration of a marginalized Italian American community, the spirit of exploration that drives us to the stars, and the spread of Western Civilization itself, which should be celebrated despite its flaws. As a result, I’m proud to wish you a happy Columbus Day!