Welcome to the second annual celebration of Columbus Week at Powell History!
Columbus Week? Yes. When Ayn Rand was asked “Why do you use the word ‘selfishness’ to denote virtuous qualities of character, when that word antagonizes so many people to whom it does not mean the things you mean?” she answered, “For the reason that makes you afraid of it.”
Similarly, Columbus represents virtue and historical greatness, the nature of which strikes fear and enmity in various people. As a promoter of individualism and reason in the face of crippling faith and second-handedness, he propelled Europe forward despite itself. He helped make Western civilization better, and because of his discovery, allowed it to become the dominant culture of the world. In the process, a previously barbarous continent was populated by Western peoples, and the most important civilization in World history–the United States of America–was eventually created. For enemies of Western culture, this process is anathema. These Enemies of Christopher Columbus perversely uphold the Stone Age mysticism of American Indians as superior to rationality and individual rights, and denounce Columbus for having brought about the downfall of the primitive way of life of America’s natives. That such a perspective has gained currency today is tragic. Thus, nothing short of a week in honor of Columbus will do…for the reason that makes them afraid of it.
To kick things off, let me recommend an op-ed about Columbus day in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review by Dimitri Vassilaros, featuring the ideas of Thomas Bowden. It’s a good introduction to some of the topics discussed in Mr. Bowden’s important book.
So why do the people of the world, who have gained so much thanks to Columbus, think ill of him? Gain some insight into Columbus’s reversal of fortune in modern history through my series of essays from last year, Kant vs. Columbus.
- Part 1: Why were there no attacks on Columbus until the Twentieth century?
- Part 2: How Immanuel Kant undercut the science of history
- Part 3: Historians’ inability to defend abstractions such as the “Discovery of America”
- Part 4: Columbus’s discovery is the true Discovery of America
More on Columbus, from last year’s series:
What made Columbus a “world changer”? Sculptor Giulio Monteverde answer with his masterpiece, Young Columbus.
What exactly does a proper assessment of Columbus look like? Try Joel Barlow’s Columbiad.
This year I’m going to focus on the power of art and poetry to capture the nature and impact of Christopher Columbus on the world. Tomorrow, some tips on how to celebrate Columbus Day!