Social media, the place where every fleeting thought becomes a set-in-stone opinion whose rejection is tantamount to eating raw baby seals in front of a kindergarten class, was (of course) awash in the usual virtue-signaling and Starbucks-stool erudition about Columbus Day.

Columbus and the mid-millennium Europeans were bad people, who destroyed the natives of the Western hemisphere with war and disease, and therefore celebrating the man whose opening of the West to the prevailing societies of his day, and ushering in a momentous change in the world, is to be rejected, with prejudice and moral outrage.

Indeed, dozens of cities have declared their rejection of Columbus on his holiday.

They’ve replaced it with a celebration of “indigenous peoples.”

Because, obviously (sarcasm), it is more proper to celebrate the oppressed than to fete the oppressors.

Just who and what are we supposed to celebrate, though? The “indigenous peoples” engaged in frequent and brutal wars with each other. They practiced slavery, ritual human sacrifice (including children), torture, and their own form of eugenics. Their behaviors, en toto, are easily deemed as bad or worse than those of the hated Europeans of that era.

So, if we are not to celebrate Columbus and all that his introduction of the Western Hemisphere to the European nations, why in the world would we celebrate the as-bad-or-worse natives that happened to come out on the short end of that contact? Would we expect that, if things went the other way, that if the contact initiated by Columbus led to a flourishing of the native Americans and a mass die-off in Europe, that it would then be proper to celebrate Columbus, because his side “lost?”

Or, can we accept that, by today’s standards, everyone back then sucked, and that what is worth celebrating is the advent of a long process that brought us to a much more civilized state of existence? We should absolutely and obviously know and study the hard facts of history – all of it. But, if we impose judgment on all the societies of the past based on today’s standards, we’d celebrate nothing. Worse, we’d ignore much that can be learned from all that history, because, as we’ve seen with those who blithely dismiss all the world-shifting good works of the Founding Fathers because they owned slaves, people are quick to club each other with “I’m more moral than you” absolutism just to win arguments.

The broader lesson here, one that can apply to countless other “with us or against us” challenges, is to take a good look at the team you want to side with before you tear down the one you don’t like.

I don’t expect to sway many Columbus bashers, unfortunately. They’ve already decided that white Europeans uniquely suck, and turn blind eyes to everyone else’s suck.

One final comment, directed at those who assert “genocide.” Genocide is a deliberate act, systemic, with purpose of intent and mechanism. The die-off of native Americans from diseases introduced to the Western Hemisphere by European travelers was not some grand plan. No one back then knew of bacteria, or understood epidemiology, or knew that the native tribes would not have resistance to diseases common in Europe. To call it “genocide” is to misuse and dilute the word, and impute intent where none existed. So, stop it.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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