Christopher Who?

By | October 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

        Choose one

October 12 is Columbus Day. It commemorates the day Columbus landed in the New World. Note the artist’s depiction of him kneeling, claiming the land for the king and queen of Spain, while looking upward toward heaven. Note the priest, blessing the land in the name of Christianity. Note one of the sailors kissing the land he feared he would never reach.

Next to this painting, rich in color, note the drab black-and-white photo of Chicano university students demonstrating against Columbus, who they claim invaded the land. But if he had not gone on his voyage, would they be Chicano students at a modern university?

Of course not. They would be members of hundreds of tribes, often warring with one another, enslaving the losers, and sometimes practicing cannibalism. They would not be Chicano – that is, Latino or Hispanic. They would be speaking hundreds of languages, often mutually unintelligible – certainly not Spanish or English. If they were descendants of Aztecs, Mayans, or the other tribes that inhabited what became Mexico, they would be in their native lands, not in what is now the United States.

They wouldn’t be in Mexico, either. There would be no Mexico, with a common language, a common religion, and national traditions and pride. Their very source of identity, Mexico, would not exist. Mexico declared its independence from Spain in 1810. Before then it was called New Spain. The famous grito or cry of independence, commemorated annually on Mexican Independence Day, was uttered by Father Hidalgo, a Catholic priest.

In short, the call that initiated Mexican independence was uttered by a man with an “invader” name, a man who represented the religion of the “invaders,” a man who spoke the cry in the language of the “invaders” – and a man who called for freedom and democracy, which are “invader” concepts. (Gratitude? We don’t need no stinkin’ gratitude!)

I grew up in San Francisco, which then was a rather conservative city. I took ROTC in high school. Every year we marched in the St. Patrick’s Day and Columbus Day parades, which were big events in a city with large numbers of citizens of Irish or Italian heritage. The Columbus Day parade began at the foot of Market Street, then turned up Columbus Avenue, moved into North Beach, the Italian section of town, and ended at the impressive Church of Saints Peter and Paul.

We took it for granted that people of many ethnic heritages could celebrate their national holidays and customs, and still be entirely loyal and committed Americans. Why not? That’s what we had seen since childhood. That’s what had been forged in the crucible of two World Wars. That’s what we were taught in school. It was just obvious.

But things have changed. Now young people are taught in school, and again in university, that ethnic heritage and American identity are in conflict. Even worse, they are taught that American identity itself is undesirable, even detrimental.

● On Flag Day, they are taught to march with the flags of the nations from which their families fled to escape poverty or persecution – but certainly not with American flags, which represent “oppression” and “imperialism.” Really? Would an oppressive, imperialistic nation permit students to march around with foreign flags?

● On Cinco do Mayo, which they confuse with Mexican Independence Day, they march proudly and ostentatiously with Mexican flags. Meanwhile, “Anglo” students are forbidden to wear American-flag T-shirts because that might “cause trouble.” Really? Then why not discipline the troublemakers, not the T-shirt wearers? If wearing an American-flag T-shirt in an American school causes trouble, we’re all in trouble, deep trouble.

In the past, Columbus was admired as a visionary explorer who overcame the fears of his sailors that they might fall off the edge of the Earth. He was admired as a benefactor who brought modern civilization to people who were living in the Bronze Age in what became Mexico, and mainly in the Stone Age in what became the United States and Canada. But now, students are taught that native peoples lived in some sort of paradise, in tune with nature, until Europeans arrived to mess things up completely.

Columbus used to be so admired that people tried to claim him as one of their own. Italians proclaimed the standard idea that he was Cristoforo Colombo, perhaps from Genoa. Spaniards announced that he was Cristóbal Colón, who might have changed his name to escape debts. Portuguese declared that he was Cristóvão Colombo, from Portugal. Jews theorized that he was a converso, a Spanish Jew who converted to Christianity to escape the expulsion from Spain that occurred in 1492.

Providentially, that was the year he discovered the New World, which was to become a refuge for Jews and many millions of others fleeing persecution and oppression.

But things have changed. Now no group except Italians claims Columbus as one of their own. Who wants to be identified with an invader, an enslaver, or even a practitioner of genocide? Isn’t it odd that liberals tell us to celebrate our ethnic heritage, but in this case they punish us for doing exactly that? Apparently only some ethnic heritages are worthy of celebration – the ones they approve.

Ethnic pride can be perfectly compatible with pride in America. For example, listen to “The Ballad of Mike Moran.” And look at the casualty lists from Afghanistan − note all the Latino and other non-“Anglo” names. It depends on whether young people are brought up to be grateful for the opportunities they have been offered, or to be narcissistic ingrates who always feel entitled to more.

Some people view America as their homeland, to which they owe undivided loyalty. Other people view it as merely the place they happen to be living at the moment. But still others view America as a piñata, and they intend to keep hitting it as hard as they can until they receive all the goodies to which they feel entitled.

But what will they do when the piñata is empty, which may happen sooner than we think? Will they have the motivation and the skills to fill it up again? Or will they just keep hitting it until the stick breaks, then shrug their shoulders and go back home? Stay tuned.


Contact: You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.

Social Widgets powered by