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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

No Columbus, no freedom

As the statuary falls amid protests and riots and a mob that will never be placated, I smile. I never did understand why we honored Lee and other traitors. I want Stonewall Jackson removed from the grounds of West Virginia's Capitol.

But goodbye Columbus? That's nuts.

He was a true hero whose faith in God was so strong that he braved the ocean in three tiny ships. Everyone knew the world was round. They also knew the distance to China on a western route from Europe was 10,000 or so miles. As they thought the journey would be by ocean only, they doubted anyone would make it.

But Columbus went and was rewarded with the discovery islands which led to the discovery by others of new continents.

Given the odds he faced in those tiny, leaky, wooden ships, the only way he could have made it was through divine intervention. God wanted his entire world revealed to Man at that particular moment in history for reasons known only to God.

Leif Erikson's discovery of Canada almost 500 years earlier jumped the gun. Nothing came of it.

But what if Columbus had not journeyed to the New World?

Well, someone else may have come later. Gutenberg's invention allowed Europeans to share information. But the Chinese had invented something similar years earlier and not much came of it for many reasons, including an unwieldy alphabet. China did some oceanic exploration but it had no Columbus.

They were practical. Heading into the ocean with barely sea-worthy ships was crazy. The societies of Europe and the rest of the Eastern Hemisphere could have continued with its wars and intermittent plagues. The Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment though were inevitable.

As for the Indians, they did not even have wooden ships. They were primitive and lived accordingly. Without Columbus, the New World though would have been stuck in pre-Columbian times. Those were not very good times. Tarlton Law Library and the Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas examined Aztec and Mayan law in 2012.

It reported, "The Aztecs followed a strict social hierarchy in which individuals were identified as nobles (pipiltin), commoners (macehualtin), serfs, or slaves. The noble class consisted of government and military leaders, high level priests, and lords (tecuhtli). Priests had their own internal class system and were expected to be celibate and to refrain from alcohol. Failure to do so would result in serious punishment or death. The tecuhtli included landowners, judges, and military commanders. Nobles were entitled to receive tribute from commoners in the form of goods, services, and labor. Noble status was passed on through male and female lineages, and only nobles were permitted to display their wealth by wearing decorated capes and jewelry."

So slavery would have continued in the Americas.

Sexism?

The report said, "Women had limited leadership roles within the Aztec empire. There is evidence that they had administrative roles in the calpulli and markets, and also worked as midwives and priestesses. However, the top administrative positions were limited to men, and women were not permitted to serve as warriors."

The pre-Columbian era was a series of empires built on skulls.

And those skulls revealed a lot centuries later. Anthropologists Richard H. Steckel and Jerome C. Rose examined more than 12,500 skeletons from 65 sites in North and South America. 50 scientists and scholars joined in the research and contributed chapters to the book, the New York Times reported.

In 2001, the pair wrote, "The Backbone of History: Health and Nutrition in the Western Hemisphere."

They found that life had been on the decline in the Americas for 1,000 years before Columbus.

The Times reported on the book on October 29, 2002.

It said, "The researchers used standardized criteria to rate the incidence and degree of these health factors by time and geography. Some trends leapt out from the resulting index. The healthiest sites for Native Americans were typically the oldest sites, predating Columbus by more than 1,000 years. Then came a marked decline."

Life before Columbus was pretty rotten in the Americas.

Those signaling their virtue by attacking him five centuries after his death also signal their ignorance.

Columbus brought a wave of exploration. More important, he brought Christianity to the New World, which gave a hopeless people hope.

And more than a century after the Spanish and Portuguese conquered Central America and South America, French trappers and British settlers took over North America in pursuit of religious freedom.

Condemn the slavery, of course, but praise the God-given freedoms they secured.

Take down Lee's statue, Stonewall's too. But leave Columbus alone. He was a brave man without whom there would be no United States of America.

And maybe that is what these protesters really resent.