Although vetoed by Governor Mary Fallin, a bill passed by the Oklahoma Legislature earlier this month is a great barometer in discerning whether a legislator is truly a conservative, in the best sense of that word.
The bill was an effort to move Native American Day from November to the second Monday in October. The bill passed the House 70-10, and the Senate, 35-5. The 105 members who voted in favor of the bill were either ignorant or apathetic to its significance, or chose to cast a "yes" vote for the purpose of diminishing the accomplishments of Christopher Columbus.
Had the Legislature simply wanted to honor the state’s American Indians (of which there are many in Oklahoma), they could have either kept the date as is, or moved it to one of 363 other days of the year. But by picking out the second Monday in October, the principal motive is clearly to denigrate Columbus.
Neither Native American Day nor Columbus Day is an official state holiday with public offices closed (the legislature nixed Columbus Day as an official holiday years ago to make room on the calendar for Martin Luther King). This legislation did not change that.
Representative Chuck Hoskin, a Democrat who authored the bill, said that it was important from an educational perspective to recognize the inaccurate portrayal of history that Columbus and Europeans were the first to “discover” the Americas, adding that it is a “fallacy” that is still taught in state schools.
Again, Native American Day will continue to exist on the third Monday in November to “commemorate the accomplishments of Oklahoma’s Native Americans.” The only purpose of moving the day to the second Monday in October was not to “commemorate the accomplishments of Oklahoma’s Native Americans,” but rather to diminish the many accomplishments of Columbus.
Why does the Left hate Columbus so much?
Many states and cities across America have moved to drop “Columbus Day,” usually in favor of Native American Day or “Indigenous People’s Day.” Katy Schumaker, a classics and letters professor at the University of Oklahoma, repeated the mantra that has become the left-wing template in recent years: “There are plenty of other people who came and ‘found’ the Americas before Columbus did.… His voyage … set up a chain reaction that made the Americas what they are today. [Emphasis added.] Things like slavery, the decimation of native populations, all of those things were initiated by that first contact.”
This sums up the smug academic attitude about Columbus found on most college campuses: He did not accomplish anything of any importance; and to whatever extent he did accomplish anything, it was something repugnant to all right-thinking people, as he was somehow responsible for the slavery of millions of black Africans and the deaths of millions of indigenous peoples.
Is this fair?
First, it should be noted that Columbus did not set out to “discover” America. Although popular culture now depicts him as being concerned primarily about gold and spices, this desire was actually part of a larger motivation. Columbus wanted to find enough wealth to finance a crusade to free the Holy Land from Islamic domination. Expecting to reach Asia by sailing west, he urged the king and queen of Spain “to spend all the profits from this enterprise on the conquest of Jerusalem.” (Emphasis added.)
The Muslims had conquered Constantinople only a few years before this, completing their multigenerational conquest of the Christian world in the East, including the Byzantine Empire and the lands where Jesus had lived, died, and risen from the dead. Columbus, after a careful study of the Old and New Testaments, along with some other readings (principally of the “church father” Augustine), had concluded that the city of Jerusalem must be in Christian hands before Jesus would return.
Certainly, Columbus did not set out to mistreat American Indians. Indeed, he was ignorant of their very existence. His actual desire was to reach the Gran Khan, the Mongol ruler of China. The Chinese monarchs had expressed an interest in the Christian faith, creating within Columbus the desire to convert China, and then, these combined Christian forces could proceed to drive the Muslims from the Holy Land.
Pre-Columbian America is pictured as a paradise by those who wish to denigrate Columbus. It was not. Slavery already existed long before he set foot in the Western Hemisphere. If Columbus is to be blamed for events after his death, then he should be credited with certain achievements resulting from his voyages, as well. For instance, Spanish Christians ended the horrific human sacrifices and cannibalism practiced by the brutal Aztec Empire.
Columbus did not commit genocide. The greatest cause of the premature deaths of indigenous peoples in the Western Hemisphere was disease, as the Spaniards introduced smallpox, plague, and measles into North and South America. But this was not the fault of Columbus.
Tommy De Seno, writing in The Truth About Columbus, stated, “It is wrong also to blame Columbus for bringing genocidal microbes to kill native Americans.” He noted that his detractors “make fun of him thinking he was in the East. So, was his evil plan to bring disease to wipe out the East?”
Because of Columbus, millions of souls were exposed to the Christian religion. While this is for some non-Christians a non-issue or even a negative, Columbus is actually responsible for the improvement of life in both hemispheres. If one had to make a “short list” of persons in history who did the most to improve the lives of human beings, a name that should be on the list is Christopher Columbus.
The effort to demonize Columbus is part of the larger campaign to attack the foundations of Western civilization. Once men such as Columbus, Washington, and Jefferson can be removed as objects of admiration, they can be replaced with leftist icons, for the purpose of advancing a secular and socialist agenda.
In the end, Columbus is hated for his greatest virtue: He brought the Christian faith and Western civilization to the New World.
For whatever reason, 105 members of the Oklahoma Legislature either do not understand that, or they view it as a negative.
Steve Byas is the author of History’s Greatest Libels, in which he defends Columbus, along with historical figures such as Washington, Jefferson, Marie Antoinette, Clarence Thomas, and Joseph McCarthy.