Columbus Day: No Apologies

by Joe Hargrave

Few days provide so great an occasion for an orgy of self-hatred (among the white elites) and faux moral outrage as Columbus Day. But long before communists, socialists, and their fellow-travelers seized control of our educational institutions and rewrote the history of the Western civilization – a revision which is force-fed to most students in our public reeducation centers – Columbus was celebrated as a great explorer and a daring adventurer who undertook great hardships to undergo the voyage that would lead to the discovery of the New World. Pope Leo XIII, on the 400th anniversary (1892) of that famous voyage, wrote of Columbus in Quarto Abeunte Saeculo:

By his toil another world emerged from the unsearched bosom of the ocean: hundreds of thousands of mortals have, from a state of blindness, been raised to the common level of the human race, reclaimed from savagery to gentleness and humanity; and, greatest of all, by the acquisition of those blessings of which Jesus Christ is the author, they have been recalled from destruction to eternal life.

Indeed, Columbus Day holds a special significance for Catholics, because it marks the beginning of the transformation of the Americas from a landscape of unbridled savagery, reaching its demonic apotheosis in the mass human sacrifices carried out by the Aztecs, to a hemisphere consecrated to Christ. Leo’s words also remind us of a truth that has been forgotten by some, rejected by others, and denounced in the modern and post-modern world, even by many Catholics: that without the light of the Gospels and incorporation into the mystical body of Christ (which is the Church), salvation is impossible to attain.

Much of the contemporary hatred for Columbus is based upon the work of Bartolomé de las Casas, a Spanish priest and contemporary of Columbus who wrote books such as “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies.” His initially noble devotion to the cause of the indigenous Americans eventually gave way to a sort of fanaticism that lead him to distort the truth and become increasingly aggressive in his campaigns on their behalf. Las Casas’ modus operandi ought to be familiar to those of us who encounter ideological zealots even today. The Catholic Encyclopedia sums up his attitude in the following way:

Las Casas was a man of great purity of life and of noble aspirations, but his conviction that his own views were flawless made him intolerant of those of others.

Intolerance and idealism, operating together – you don’t say! And when we add his intellectual pride to the mix, we almost have a portrait of a modern academic:

Although for over fifty years an ecclesiastic, he always remained under the spell of his early education as a lawyer. His controversy with Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda on the Indian question is a polemic between two juris-consults, adorned with, or rather encumbered by, theological phraseology.

Because this man’s work is often the primary source of anti-Columbus, anti-Catholic and anti-Western harangues, his entry in the Encyclopedia is well worth reviewing.

In the first place, Las Casas, though he is reported to have later regretted it, owned and imported black slaves to the Spanish colonies. Thus his zeal for the welfare of the Indians was not matched in his attitude towards Africans. In the second place, as the Encyclopedia states, Las Casas was prone to wild exaggerations:

He exaggerated the number of aborigines on the island at the time of discovery, and magnified into a deed of revolting cruelty every act which savoured of injustice. Sober common sense demands the revision and correction of his indictments… Everywhere he found abuses, and everywhere painted them in the blackest colours, making no allowances for local conditions or for the dark side of the Indian character.

Las Casas was so intolerant that he ended up alienating many potential supporters for his ideas in Spain:

The strong support which Las Casas found in Spain discredits the accusations of tyranny brought against the Spaniards by Las Casas himself and by his partisans. His violent denunciations were not only unjust, but extremely ungrateful. Throughout his career he never lacked either the means for support or for carrying out his schemes. But his vehemence and sweeping injustice estranged more and more those who, fully desirous of aiding the Indians, had to acknowledge that gradual reform, and not sudden revolution, was the true policy.

The “black legend” of distortions and half-truths that this angry fanatic created about the Spanish presence in the New World was also accompanied by a black legend about Columbus, for it is Las Casas’ version of Columbus’ journal that survives down to the present day – not his original. As the Encyclopedia entry on Columbus states:

Las Casas claims to have used the journal of Columbus’s first voyage, but he admits that he made an abridged copy of it. What and how much he left out, of course, is not known. But it is well to bear in mind that the journal, as published, is not the original in its entirety.

Suffice to say that I see no good reason, nor should you, to have faith in this man’s account of Columbus, of his motives or his actual deeds, or his reflections upon them. I don’t believe for a moment that Spanish soldiers were testing the sharpness of their blades upon hapless and innocent native victims, for instance; it and other reports of extreme barbaric cruelty have “ideological exaggeration” written all over them.

It furthermore seems nearly impossible to me that Pope Leo XIII, who could look back proudly upon a Papal legacy of anti-slavery especially regarding indigenous Americans (even if their explicit prohibitions and condemnations of it were ignored), would have simultaneously held Columbus in such high regard if he really were the monster Las Casas makes him out to be.

What we are really witnessing in the controversies surrounding Columbus Day is an attempt to force a “new truth” down our throats, and to bring upon us shame, regret, and repentance before the new gods of multiculturalism and relativism. In my view, Catholics can and ought to be proud of the Spanish legacy in the New World. The “genocide” with which the Spaniards are charged is often dishonestly derived from the tragic and unintentional spread of disease from the Europeans to the native populations, an effect that no one desired or planned for. The destruction of the Aztec Empire, on the other hand, was entirely justified, given that its rulers were engaging in a genocide of their own, engaging in mass human sacrifices that claimed tens of thousands of victims annually.

To this it will finally be added that we can be proud of the missionary work, especially by the Jesuits, that delivered so many millions from spiritual darkness. The Spanish presence in the Americas seems to have been a part of God’s plan, for it was in 1531, a mere 39 years after Columbus’ initial voyage, that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared before Juan Diego. The image that she imparted to him was responsible for the conversion of millions of indigenous people to the Catholic faith, even as millions of Europeans were falling away from it and into Protestantism. No, I certainly will not apologize for that. And neither would Pope Leo:

Columbus threw open America at the time when a great storm was about to break over the Church. As far, therefore, as it is lawful for man to divine from events the ways of Divine Providence, he seemed to have truly been born, by a singular provision of God, to remedy those losses which were awaiting the Catholic Church on the side of Europe.

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37 Responses to Columbus Day: No Apologies

  • MJAndrew says:

    I think there is some merit in the video you post, Jay, namely the push to commemorate the indigenous peoples. In Central and South America, the celebration is a “day of the races,” where the indigenous peoples, Columbus, and the Spanish explorers are all celebrated. All three subjects were responsible for the rooting of Catholicism in the Americas. Also, I don’t think it would be bad to roll back the hagiography a bit on Columbus.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Joe anticipates me, no bad thing! I will be posting Leo XIII’s letter on Christopher Columbus tomorrow. Columbus was a man of his time and he had some of the sins common in his time, just as many of us fall captive to the sins of our time. What I celebrate in regard to Columus is his uncommon courage and his desire to spread the Faith to people who lived in darkness. That much evil came about as a result of his voyage in no way diminishes his accomplishment or the great good that came from it. He is one of the giants of times past whose shoulders we stand on. He should be condemned for his sins as we should all be, but we should also celebrate his virtues and his stunning accomplishment.

  • Moe says:

    Not to detract from your well-written article, but this gave me the willies:

    “The destruction of the Aztec Empire, on the other hand, was entirely justified, given that its rulers were engaging in a genocide of their own, engaging in mass human sacrifices that claimed tens of thousands of victims annually.”

    Joe, don’t you see the parallel here? Lord, have mercy.

  • Randall Jennings says:

    I think what is needed is a fresh and well researched narrative, which seems (at least to me), hard to find in a single, digestible text. Thanks for sparking some fresh thought in this direction!
    I would add that if the Marxist historical revisionists wish to push a narrative that would show that Christian expansion into the Americas was just like any other in intent and outcome (ethically equal to any other), then why not make a fuss about the Aztec’s invasion of the Valley of Mexico a hundred years before? Or, why make a fuss about supposed Spanish cruelties at all? What is it that would have THIS culture (ours) question itself in the first place, or be susceptible to criticisms of this kind at all? Must be a different moral standard applied, and for me, there’s the rub.

  • Ike says:

    I’m not being combative here; I’m sincerely asking this question: What paralell? I don’t get it, Moe. Do you mean it paralells abortion in the same continent in our day? I should agree with you. Is that what you meant, or am I just not getting it?

  • Moe says:

    Art Deco,
    Your snide, uncharitable remark dismays me. Abortion is a sacrifice similar to the evil blood sacrifices of children that were practiced by the Phoenicians, Cartheginians, Mayans, Aztecs, and others. If you fail to see a parallel here, then I would posit you are obtuse.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Regarding that absurd video:

    We ought to be commemorating it with a solemn Mass per the instruction of Pope Leo XIII. And every sermon ought to be a history lesson to either bring balance to the sort of claims advanced by these activists, or to counter them when they are lies.

  • Sam says:

    Savagery, like human sacrifice? You mean like Jesus on the cross?

    I am sure you lunatics have some Rube Goldberg theological mechanism to say how God requiring a human sacrifice from Jesus is a morally acceptable way to redeem mankind, but I’m not buying it.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    A lunatic is someone who thinks he is the standard for what is “morally acceptable.”

    It is God that determines what is morally acceptable, not you, and not the ethics professors at your university.

    The sacrifice of Christ ended for all time the rationale for bloody sacrifices for atonement, animal or human (God never required human sacrifice, but the Jews did slaughter animals). In the Mass we re-present this sacrifice, over and over again, as (among other things) an atonement for sins.

    So Jesus, while fully human, is also fully God. It was not a “human sacrifice”, but God taking on human form and suffering immensely for us – out of sheer love. The way of the cross is the way to eternal life:

    “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matt. 16:24.

    So, this sacrifice is for us: it is to show us the way. It is to show us how we can become like God, by following in this path, taking up our cross, and following him.

    “The disciple is not above his master: but every one shall be perfect, if he be as his master.” Luke 6:40

    So, nuts to your “acceptable morality.” The highest morality is love, and it was love alone why God, an infinite and perfect being, became a man and underwent great humiliations and torments for our benefit, so that we may see exactly how it is one gains eternal life.

  • Paul D. says:

    Yes, how dare God have the audacity not to conform to Sam’s standards of reasonability. You have vanquished 2000 years of Christian thought merely by being born and showing up.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Crux of the matter:

    “One must, however, distinguish between the Divinity and the Humanity of Christ and say: while Christ as God, together with the Father and the Holy Ghost accepted His own sacrifice in expiation of the offended Deity, He offered this same sacrifice as Man vicariously to the Blessed Trinity. While this coincidence of the three functions of priest, victim, and acceptor in the same Christ may constitute a mystery, it yet contains no contradiction”

  • Thomas says:

    The “mass human sacrifices carried out by the Aztecs” are an almost forgettable minuscule number when compared to the dead ‘civilians’ in the wars fought among European Christian nations at the time. Or does that not count?

    Any way you slice it, Columbus lead to the massive genocide of a native population. To be proud of this in any way, or not to see it for the great tragedy it was is unbelievably idiotic. I cannot believe a serious journalist would write an article so uninformed as to the historic facts. I am sure in 500 years a journalist with the same mentality will write a column praising Hitler or Stalin or both for the great service they did for the human race.

    I am disgusted with this ignorant, blind, cruel article, and am canceling my subscription immediately. No follower of Christ could possibly try to justify mass slaughter and the death of an entire culture. And you consider yourself a Catholic?? Your religious instructor and/or priest have completely failed you.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    LOL. Can I put that comment on my resume?

    I slice with historical truth, my friend. You haven’t even picked up a knife.

    And on that last bit, if you thought this article was bad, you should have heard my pastor’s sermon the Sunday before last!

    If/when you calm down, I’ll be happy to discuss these issues with you rationally.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    I know your type, by the way: we didn’t have a real pope until Paul VI, right?

    I didn’t write ” Quarto Abeunte Saeculo”: Pope Leo XIII (one of history’s greatest popes) did. I didn’t write the Catholic Encyclopedia; men educated in an age before leftist lies took over the educational system did.

    So don’t shoot the messenger. If I’m wrong, then the Church was wrong for nearly 2000 years. I’ll take my stand with tradition and Leo before I will some whimpering sop of the modern academy.

  • Blackadder says:

    If I’m wrong, then the Church was wrong for nearly 2000 years.

    Presumably one can believe that Columbus wasn’t a great guy without concluding that Catholicism is false.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    It depends on why you think he wasn’t a great guy. If you think he wasn’t a great guy because he actually thought it was his mission to convert pagans to the Catholic faith, then I’d say you’d have to reject Catholicism all together. That’s what he went there to do, among other things, but that was his high priority.

    And if you think he wasn’t a great guy because he supposedly committed genocide, well then you’re just misinformed, because he didn’t. And he didn’t call for it or say it should happen.

  • Blackadder says:

    If you think he wasn’t a great guy because he actually thought it was his mission to convert pagans to the Catholic faith, then I’d say you’d have to reject Catholicism all together. That’s what he went there to do, among other things, but that was his high priority.

    I’m pretty sure his high priority was to find a quicker trade route to the East.

    According to the transcripts from Columbus’ trial, he refused to baptize natives because this would prevent their enslavement. Of course it’s possible that all the charges made against Columbus in his trial were a bunch of lies. Given that leftists today don’t like the guy, it would be tempting to just dismiss any accusations of wrongdoing as being baseless. I wonder, though, how much of this would be based on a careful evaluation of the evidence, and how much based on the fact that you don’t like people who don’t like him.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    One wonders, then, how Leo XIII could have written,

    “[I]n his mind, he sought first of all to extend the Christian name and the benefits of Christian charity to the West, as is abundantly proved by the history of the whole undertaking.”

    And he goes on to quote a whole bunch of stuff to substantiate it. I guess cynics can see in his words some sort of crude manipulation.

    I’m all for a careful examination of the evidence. But it is evident that this is precisely what his harshest critics have avoided, since much of the black legend comes from a questionable source. As for the trial, I haven’t seen that. If it’s true, then what I’ve said ought to be revised, obviously.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Oh and Columbus wanted to convert the natives to Christ and get rich. For him it was not an either/or proposition. He constantly wrote about both the commercial and spiritual goals of his voyages.

  • Blackadder says:

    Most of the more lurid accusations against Columbus were propounded by individuals who wanted him toppled from his governorship.

    Actually the records seem to indicate that “Even those who loved him [Columbus] had to admit the atrocities that had taken place.”

    In any event, Don’s argument that we shouldn’t listen to the accusers because they didn’t want Columbus as governor isn’t very good. If Columbus did half the things he was accused of then of course his accusers wouldn’t want him as governor.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    The bottom line is that he didn’t commit genocide (I don’t even see how he could have).

    Maybe he wasn’t the most competent governor. Maybe he should have never been governor – he was an explorer, an adventurer, and should have kept doing that.

    But that isn’t the crux of the arguments against him. People say he was genocidal, and that his religious motivations were either true but immoral (among those who think Aztec devil worship is just as good as if, not better than Catholicism), or just outright false (he made it up to justify his greedy materialist aims).

    I have no good reason to accept either of those cynical claims as true.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    BA, as a fellow attorney I would have thought that you would understand that a prosecutor’s brief is just that, and doesn’t necessarily correspond to reality. New Advent does a good job of relating the facts as to the circumstances under which Columbus went back to Spain in chains:

    “Some of the letters of Columbus concerning his third voyage are written in a tone of despondency. Owing to his physical condition, he viewed things with a discontent far from justifiable. And, as already said, his views of the geographical situation were somewhat fanciful. The great outpour opposite Trinidad he justly attributed to the emptying of a mighty river coming from the west, a river so large that only a continent could afford its space. In this he was right, but in his eyes that continent was Asia, and the sources of that river must be on the highest point of the globe. He was confirmed in this idea by his belief that Trinidad was nearer the Equator than it actually is and that near the Equator the highest land on earth should be found. He thought also that the sources of the Orinoco lay in the Earthly Paradise and that the great river was one of the four streams that according to Scripture flowed from the Garden of Eden. He had no accurate knowledge of the form of the earth, and conjectured that it was pear-shaped.

    On 15 August, fearing a lack of supplies, and suffering severely from what his biographers call gout and from impaired eyesight, he left his new discoveries and steered for Haiti. On 19 August he sighted that island some distance west of where the present capital of the Republic of Santo Domingo now stands. During his absence his brother Bartholomew had abandoned Isabella and established his head-quarters at Santo Domingo, so called after his father Domenico. During the absence of Columbus events on Haiti had been far from satisfactory. His brother Bartholomew, who was then known as the adelantado, had to contend with several Indian outbreaks, which he subdued partly by force, partly by wise temporizing. These outbreaks were, at least in part, due to a change in the class of settlers by whom the colony was reinforced. The results of the first settlement far from justified the buoyant hopes based on the exaggerated reports of the first voyage, and the pendulum of public opinion swung back to the opposite extreme. The clamour of opposition to Columbus in the colonies and the discouraging reports greatly increased in Spain the disappointment with the new territorial acquisitions. That the climate was not healthful seemed proved by the appearance of Columbus and his companions on his return from the second voyage. Hence no one was willing to go to the newly discovered country, and convicts, suspects, and doubtful characters in general who were glad to escape the regulations of justice were the only reinforcements that could be obtained for the colony on Hispaniola. As a result there were conflicts with the aborigines, sedition in the colony, and finally open rebellion against the authority of the adelantado and his brother Diego. Columbus and his brothers were Italians, and this fact told against them among the malcontents and lower officials, but that it influenced the monarchs and the court authorities is a gratuitous charge.

    As long as they had not a common leader Bartholomew had little to fear from the malcontents, who separated from the rest of the colony, and formed a settlement apart. They abused the Indians, thus causing almost uninterrupted trouble. However, they soon found a leader in the person of one Roldan, to whom the admiral had entrusted a prominent office in the colony. There must have been some cause for complaint against the government of Bartholomew and Diego, else Roldan could not have so increased the number of his followers as to make himself formidable to the brothers, undermining their authority at their own head-quarters and even among the garrison of Santo Domingo. Bartholomew was forced to compromise on unfavourable terms. So, when the admiral arrived from Spain he found the Spanish settlers on Haiti divided into two camps, the stronger of which, headed by Roldan, was hostile to his authority. That Roldan was an utterly unprincipled man, but energetic and above all, shrewd and artful, appears from the following incident. Soon after the arrival of Columbus the three caravels he had sent from Gomera with stores and ammunition struck the Haitian coast where Roldan had established himself. The latter represented to the commanders of the vessels that he was there by Columbus’s authority and easily obtained from them military stores as well as reinforcements in men. On their arrival shortly afterward at Santo Domingo the caravels were sent back to Spain by Columbus. Alarmed at the condition of affairs and his own importance, he informed the monarchs of his critical situation and asked for immediate help. Then he entered into negotiations with Roldan. The latter not only held full control in the settlement which he commanded, but had the sympathy of most of the military garrisons that Columbus and his brothers relied upon as well as the majority of the colonists. How Columbus and his brother could have made themselves so unpopular is explained in various ways. There was certainly much unjustifiable ill will against them, but there was also legitimate cause for discontent, which was adroitly exploited by Roldan and his followers.

    Seeing himself almost powerless against his opponents on the island, the admiral stooped to a compromise. Roldan finally imposed his own conditions. He was reinstated in his office and all offenders were pardoned; and a number of them returned to Santo Domingo. Columbus also freed many of the Indian tribes from tribute, but in order still further to appease the former mutineers, he instituted the system of repartimientos, by which not only grants of land were made to the whites, but the Indians holding these lands or living on them were made perpetual serfs to the new owners, and full jurisdiction over life and property of these Indians became vested in the white settlers. This measure had the most disastrous effect on the aborigines, and Columbus has been severely blamed for it, but he was then in such straits that he had to go to any extreme to pacify his opponents until assistance could reach him from Spain. By the middle of the year 1500 peace apparently reigned again in the colony, though largely at the expense of the prestige and authority of Columbus.

    Meanwhile reports and accusations had reached the court of Spain from both parties in Haiti. It became constantly more evident that Columbus was no longer master of the situation in the Indies, and that some steps were necessary to save the situation. It might be said that the Court had merely to support Columbus whether right or wrong. But the West Indian colony had grown, and its settlers had their connections and supporters in Spain, who claimed some attention and prudent consideration. The clergy who were familiar with the circumstances through personal experience for the most part disapproved of the management of affairs by Columbus and his brothers. Queen Isabella’s irritation at the sending of Indian captives for sale as slaves had by this time been allayed by a reminder of the custom then in vogue of enslaving captive rebels or prisoners of war addicted to specially inhuman customs, as was the case with the Caribs. Anxious to be just, the monarchs decided upon sending to Haiti an officer to investigate and to punish all offenders. This visitador was invested with full power, and was to have the same authority as the monarchs themselves for the time being, superseding Columbus himself, though the latter was the Viceroy of the Indies. The visita was a mode of procedure employed by the Spanish monarchs for the adjustment of critical matters, chiefly in the colonies. The visitador was selected irrespective of rank or office, solely from the standpoint of fitness, and not infrequently his mission was kept secret from the viceroy or other high official whose conduct he was sent to investigate; there are indications that sometimes he had summary power over life and death. A visita was a much dreaded measure, and for very good reasons.

    The investigation in the West Indies was not called a visita at the time, but such it was in fact. The visitador chosen was Francisco de Bobadilla, of whom both Las Casas and Oviedo (friends and admirers of Columbus) speak in favourable terms. His instructions were, as his office required, general and his faculties, of course, discretionary; there is no need of supposing secret orders inimical to Columbus to explain what afterwards happened. The admiral was directed, in a letter addressed to him and entrusted to Bobadilla, to turn over to the latter, at least temporarily, the forts and all public property on the island. No blame can be attached to the monarchs for this measure. After an experiment of five years the administrative capacity of Columbus had failed to prove satisfactory. Yet, the vice-regal power had been vested in him as an hereditary right. To continue adhering to that clause of the original contract was impracticable, since the colony refused to pay heed to Columbus and his orders. Hence the suspension of the viceregal authority of Columbus was indefinitely prolonged, so that the office was reduced to a mere title and finally fell into disuse. The curtailment of revenue resulting from it was comparatively small, as all the emoluments proceeding from his other titles and prerogatives were left untouched. The tale of his being reduced to indigence is a baseless fabrication.

    A man suddenly clothed with unusual and discretionary faculties is liable to be led astray by unexpected circumstances and tempted to go to extremes. Bobadilla had a right to expect implicit obedience to royal orders on the part of all and, above all, from Columbus as the chief servant of the Crown. When on 24 August, 1500, Bobadilla landed at Santo Domingo and demanded of Diego Columbus compliance with the royal orders, the latter declined to obey until directed by the admiral who was then absent. Bobadilla, possibly predisposed against Columbus and his brothers by the reports of others and by the sight of the bodies of Spaniards dangling from gibbets in full view of the port, considered the refusal of Diego as an act of direct insubordination. The action of Diego was certainly unwise and gave colour to an assumption that Columbus and his brothers considered themselves masters of the country. This implied rebellion and furnished a pretext to Bobadilla for measures unjustifiably harsh. As visitador he had absolute authority to do as he thought best, especially against the rebels, of whom Columbus appeared in his eyes as the chief.

    Within a few days after the landing of Bobadilla, Diego and Bartholomew Columbus were imprisoned and put in irons. The admiral himself, who returned with the greatest possible speed, shared their fate. The three brothers were separated and kept in close confinement, but they could hear from their cells the imprecations of the people against their rule. Bobadilla charged them with being rebellious subjects and seized their private property to pay their personal debts. He liberated prisoners, reduced or abolished imposts, in short did all he could to place the new order of things in favourable contrast to the previous management. No explanation was offered to Columbus for the harsh treatment to which he was subjected, for a visitador had only to render account to the king or according to his special orders. Early in October, 1500, the three brothers, still in fetters, were placed on board ship, and sent to Spain, arriving at Cadiz at the end of the month. Their treatment while aboard seems to have been considerate; Villejo, the commander, offered to remove the manacles from Columbus’s hands and relieve him from the chains, an offer, however, which Columbus refused to accept. It seems, nevertheless, that he did not remain manacled, else he could not have written the long and piteous letter to the nurse of Prince Juan, recounting his misfortunes on the vessel. He dispatched this letter to the court at Granada before the reports of Bobadilla were sent.

    The news of the arrival of Columbus as a prisoner was received with unfeigned indignation by the monarchs, who saw that their agent Bobadilla had abused the trust placed in him. The people also saw the injustice, and everything was done to relieve Columbus from his humiliating condition and assure him of the royal favour, that is, everything except to reinstate him as Governor of the Indies. This fact is mainly responsible for the accusation of duplicity and treachery which is made against King Ferdinand. Critics overlook the fact that in addition to the reasons already mentioned no new colonists could be obtained from Spain, if Columbus were to continue in office, and that the expedient of sending convicts to Haiti had failed disastrously. Moreover, the removal of Columbus was practically implied in the instructions and powers given to Bobadilla, and the conduct of the admiral during Aguado’s mission left no room for doubt that he would submit to the second investigation. He would have done so, but Bobadilla, anxious to make a display and angered at the delay of Diego Columbus, exceeded the spirit of his instructions, expecting thereby to rise in royal as well as in popular favour.”

    Columbus wasn’t a very good governor. His skills were those of a mariner and on land he floundered. However, he was not a cruel tyrant, but rather a man beset by difficulties and factions among the colonists eager to topple him.

  • Donna V says:

    Here’s an interesting take on Columbus (and one guaranteed to irritate certain Vox Nova posters). The writer is not a particular fan of Columbus. He prefers a different Italian, Giovanni Caboto, known to us by his English name, John Cabot. However, the writer notes:

    Now, of course, Columbus Day is under attack as a holiday in the United States by the forces of political correctness. This is primarily an effect of the Calvinist Puritan roots of American progressivism. Just as Calvinists believed in the centrality of the depravity of man, with the exception of a miniscule contingent of the Elect of God, their secularized descendants believe in the depravity and cursedness of Western civilization, with their own enlightened selves in the role of the Elect.

    And those PC descendants of Calvin must become very confused if they happen to be in Latin America on Columbus Day:

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 (UPI) — A few years ago I chanced to be in Buenos Aires on Columbus Day. It is a major holiday there, during which no business is transacted. I spent the day wandering about town enjoying the celebrations. One plaza held a Columbus Day festival in which passersby could enjoy demonstrations and samples of music, dance, crafts and foods of all the various Latin American nations, and of many of the source-nations of Argentina’s immigration.

    The interesting thing to me was the complete absence of anything representing the United States. This was not a coincidence. Columbus, and the holiday celebrating his landing in the New World, are seen throughout the Spanish-speaking world as having to do primarily with the extension of Spanish-speaking, Catholic civilization to the New World and the creation, through a conflicted encounter, of a new culture. It is, to coin a phrase, the creation of the Hispanosphere that is commemorated.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/768409/posts

  • Thomas says:

    “And those PC descendants of Calvin must become very confused if they happen to be in Latin America on Columbus Day:

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 (UPI) — A few years ago I chanced to be in Buenos Aires on Columbus Day. It is a major holiday there, during which no business is transacted. I spent the day wandering about town enjoying the celebrations. One plaza held a Columbus Day festival in which passersby could enjoy demonstrations and samples of music, dance, crafts and foods of all the various Latin American nations, and of many of the source-nations of Argentina’s immigration.

    The interesting thing to me was the complete absence of anything representing the United States. This was not a coincidence. Columbus, and the holiday celebrating his landing in the New World, are seen throughout the Spanish-speaking world as having to do primarily with the extension of Spanish-speaking, Catholic civilization to the New World and the creation, through a conflicted encounter, of a new culture. It is, to coin a phrase, the creation of the Hispanosphere that is commemorated.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/768409/posts

    I don’t see what is so surprising about this. The population of Argentina (and Brazil and Chile, etc, etc.) is just like the USA. Mostly of European descent. Don’t confuse Spanish with Native. The whole point is there are not enough natives left to have any say or impact on how to Celebrate Columbus day. That’s how near total the deliberate genocide was. Not by Columbus, but by those who came after (in the name of God and gold). So of course natives would see his “discovering” them as a tragedy. No one in Eastern Europe celebrates the day the Soviets “liberated” them now do they?

  • Mary Conway says:

    I don’t understand why Joe Hargrave is so smug in this article in his attack on “political correctness” and is such a staunch defender of the European and “Christian” conquest of the Americas. While I don’t think that Europeans were necessarily more cruel, greedy, or lacking in all humanitarian or religious impulses than other peoples in their exploration and conquest of foreign lands, one would have to ignore the historical record and be blinded by political and religious ideology to ignore the horrible injustices and atrocities that occurred during the time of Columbus and after. Morally, it is not “justified” to exterminate the Aztecs because they were practitioners of human sacrifice. I don’t know where Hargrave studied ethics; but killing and subjugating people, either as a punishment for wrongdoing or in order to convert them to Christianity, is not the method generally recognized today as acceptable by most orthodox Christian theologians.

    Hargrave says, “Columbus Day holds a special significance for Catholics, because it marks the beginning of the transformation of the Americas from a landscape of unbridled savagery, reaching its demonic apotheosis in the mass human sacrifices carried out by the Aztecs, to a hemisphere consecrated to Christ.” I don’t think that we have to apologize for Western civilization or for the Catholic Church for all the abuses of the past; but we don’t need to glorify, as Hargrave does, what was basically a very ignoble past in the European conquest and colonization of the Americas. What evidence does Hargrave have for his astoundingly sweeping and unsupported generalization that North and South America were lands “of unbridled savagery” before the appearance of Westerners produced “a hemisphere consecrated to Christ”? Western European history provides countless examples of “unbridled savagery,” as does all of human history. Moreover, unfortunately, I know of no period in human history in which more than a very small number of people were “consecrated to Christ,” much less an entire country or hemisphere.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Mary,

    For future reference, you may address me and the other contributors to TAC directly; we love to engage our critics :)

    “I don’t understand why Joe Hargrave is so smug in this article in his attack on “political correctness” and is such a staunch defender of the European and “Christian” conquest of the Americas.”

    It was not my intention to be smug, but to vigorously defend what I think the right attitude and the historical truth is regarding this topic.

    I attack political correctness because it is a vile and stupid doctrine.

    I defend the Christian, sans scare quotes, conquest of the Aztec Empire because the latter was overrun with pure evil, a blight on the face of the Earth no less offensive to God than the abominations of the Canaanites (who also sacrificed their children to idols). I defend it for similar reasons that most people defend the conquest of the Third Reich during WWII.

    “one would have to ignore the historical record and be blinded by political and religious ideology to ignore the horrible injustices and atrocities that occurred during the time of Columbus and after”

    Name some of them, from reputable sources (i.e. not the exaggerations of Las Casas). Genuine injustices and atrocities are to be condemned, provided that a) they actually happened, and b) they actually meet the criteria of injustice or atrocity.

    I will be happy to condemn, along with you and anyone else, an event that meets this criteria.

    “Morally, it is not “justified” to exterminate the Aztecs because they were practitioners of human sacrifice.”

    I did not say, “exterminate the Aztecs.” I spoke of the conquest of the Aztec empire, meaning the destruction of a social and political entity. Naturally this involves killing enemy soldiers and either killing or dispersing the diabolical, mass murdering, blood-soaked “priests” and rulers. It does not mean wholesale extermination of the population.

    The point is not to murder people, but to convert them to Christ. It was Our Lady of Guadalupe that truly destroyed the demonic Aztec religion; the Conquistadors merely prepared the way by destroying the institutions of the devil.

    “I don’t know where Hargrave studied ethics;”

    I don’t know, probably the same place Pope Leo XIII did. Everything I said was based on his document honoring Columbus. Read it.

    I hold and profess Christian morality, not “ethics”, and I study it in the Scriptures, in the numerous encyclicals of the popes, and in the writings of true doctors of the Church, and not modernist heretics.

    “but killing and subjugating people, either as a punishment for wrongdoing or in order to convert them to Christianity, is not the method generally recognized today as acceptable by most orthodox Christian theologians.”

    Yeah, they should read Luke 16:15. You too! I don’t give a fig about the theologians. Pope Leo XIII is and always will be perfectly acceptable to me: read his statement on Columbus.

    And your statement makes no sense; you can’t convert someone you kill. As for subjugation, the Papacy outlawed and condemned slavery, numerous times. Destroying the armies, “priests”, and temples of the demonic Aztec religion/empire is not tantamount to murder or enslavement.

    ” but we don’t need to glorify, as Hargrave does, what was basically a very ignoble past in the European conquest and colonization of the Americas.”

    Well, yes, I do glorify it – but I’m not the first. Read Pope Leo XIII’s letter. Not only are we to celebrate Columbus Day in the Americas, but we are to honor it with a solemn Mass! So, don’t pin all this on me.

    There was nothing ignoble about it, anyway. The Spanish presence in the Americas brought millions of people out of darkness and servitude to the devil, into the light of Christ.

    “What evidence does Hargrave have for his astoundingly sweeping and unsupported generalization that North and South America were lands “of unbridled savagery” before the appearance of Westerners produced “a hemisphere consecrated to Christ”?”

    What evidence? Are you serious? Tribes were constantly at war with one another. It didn’t rise to the sheer evil of the Aztecs everywhere, I grant. But without God’s grace, that’s precisely the sort of thing that happens to a society.

    “Western European history provides countless examples of “unbridled savagery,” as does all of human history.”

    I never said it was perfect. But there weren’t mass human sacrifices in Western Europe. There was a perfect morality, Christianity, towards which imperfect men strove. Part of the reason for the progress of Western Europe was precisely that the Papacy often worked diligently to prevent war among Christians.

    “Moreover, unfortunately, I know of no period in human history in which more than a very small number of people were “consecrated to Christ,” much less an entire country or hemisphere.”

    Well, now you’re just splitting hairs. Entire nations and even the entire world has been consecrated to Christ in solemn declarations by the popes and bishops. I think it happened with the miracle of Guadalupe, or perhaps when Columbus invoked Christ when laying claim to the land.

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