Monday is Columbus Day. The holiday is celebrated on the second Monday in October; it became a legal federal holiday in 1971. In recent years however, Columbus Day has become a receptacle for Social Justice Warriors, or SJWs, and other loud-mouthed vulgarians of the activist Left, to dump all of their grievances and faux-outrage about everything from Western imperialism to racism to “the patriarchy.”
These gatekeepers of identity politics have accused Christopher Columbus of every crime imaginable in an effort to stigmatize and ultimately eliminate the federal holiday named after him.
“Berkeley, Calif. and South Dakota became the first city and state, respectively, to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day in the 1990s,” reports The Washington Post. “Cities including Seattle; Minneapolis; Spokane, Wash.; Boulder, Colo.; Albuquerque; Portland, Ore.; St. Paul, Minn.; and Olympia, Wash. did so over the next several years following calls from activists to honor indigenous communities and their history instead of Christopher Columbus.”
Last Thursday, the Democratic governor of Vermont, Peter Schmulin even signed an executive proclamation declaring the second Monday of October as Indigenous People’s Day. The state “was founded and is built upon lands first inhabited by the Indigenous Peoples of this region,” reads the proclamation.
What began as a fringe movement organized student activists on college campuses is now bleeding over into the public square, reversing both state and local laws.
But outside of the epistemic closure of the PC moral police, history appears to tell a different story about the controversial explorer.
Here are 9 things you need to know about Christopher Columbus:
1. Columbus Day marks the explorer’s first voyage to the Americas when he landed on the island of Guanahani in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492. Several US states celebrated the holiday on October 12 before it was turned into a federal holiday. Colorado was the first state to recognize the day as a legal holiday.
2. Columbus was rejected by three different European countries before Spain finally assumed the role of patron and bankrolled his voyage to find a western sea route to Asia. England, France, and Portugal all turned Columbus down.
3. Columbus was not the first European to cross the Atlantic. According to the History channel, “That distinction is generally given to the Norse Viking Leif Eriksson, who is believed to have landed in present-day Newfoundland around 1000 A.D., almost five centuries before Columbus set sail. Some historians even claim that Ireland’s Saint Brendan or other Celtic people crossed the Atlantic before Eriksson.”
4. Columbus was arrested by a royal commissioner sent by Spain after colonists complained about his oppressive tactics in Hispaniola. After being sent back to Spain in chains, the monarchy took Columbus’ governorship of the colony away. However, a little while later the king decided to subsidize his fourth voyage to the Americas.
5. Columbus knew the earth wasn’t flat. .”As early as the sixth century B.C., the Greek mathematician Pythagoras surmised the world was round, and two centuries later Aristotle backed him up with astronomical observations,” explains the History channel. “By 1492 most educated people knew the planet was not shaped like a pancake.”
6. Columbus was a rare member of the middle class. In the 15th century, most families were incredibly poor and belonged to the peasant class. There only a few noble families, so growing up in a middle-class family afforded Columbus opportunities to parlay with dignitaries and nobles, including the European monarchs.
7. Columbus’ voyages were fueled by both economic incentives and missionary work. The explorer wrote extensively about his hope to spread Christianity to the “heathen” cultures, particularly after he settled in Hispaniola. This “calling” often gave way to forced conversions. Ultimately, the Spanish kingdom established a series of Christian missions meant across their colonial landholdings in Baja California and the Caribbean.
8. Until the day he died, Columbus refused to believe he had landed in unchartered territory. He still believed that he had found a new pathway to India.
9. Columbus helped send valuable goods and minerals to Europe. He was obsessed with gold and believed that he hit the gold mine in Hispaniola. In the next few decades after Columbus’ death, more and more European explorers settled territory in the Americas, claiming the land for the respective monarchies. These European powers then employed indigenous natives as well as African slaves to mine the land and extract natural resources to send in ships across the Europe. Tobacco, coffee, and other goods were popularized in Europe as a result. The main consumers of these new products were the upper and middle classes.