Columbus - Why Thanksgiving?

Nov 30, 2020 829

BY: Matthew Guarnieri

We, the defenders of Columbus, are not fighting against the Civil Rights of others, but defending our own, and most importantly, Truth. Context and citations exonerate Columbus, but of course, if we only read out of context quotes, we would have a different stance.

In “A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies,” Bartolome De Las Casas, known as the defender of the Indians, writes, “But here is observable, that the desolation of these Isles and Provinces took beginning since the decease of the most serene Isabella, about the year 1504.” The year 1504 is long after Columbus’s governorship of the West Indies and his voyages.

There was a shift in power in Hispaniola in 1500, in Massachusetts in 1675, and across America, today. Is blaming Columbus for the atrocities of his political adversaries the equivalent of blaming Pilgrims for King Philip's War? Why blame Columbus and not the Pilgrims?

Recently, I was contacted by an 81 year old social worker who was a lioness of the former Italian American Civil Rights League during the eighties and nineties. Her concern is that the discrimination Italians fought against the White Anglo Saxon Protestant establishment is now being championed by the Multicultural Community. How could this happen? Marie Notarino stated on October 12, 1992, “Fanatical revisionists such as Hans Koning and Professor Jack Weatherford are vehemently joined with the Protestant Council of Churches in this incredibly bigoted attempt to rewrite history to their own satisfaction. We must wonder what motivates these people - is it sheer bigotry? Is it an attempt to relieve their guilt by shifting all the blame to Christopher Columbus? Are they simply motivated by a personal resentment that their ancestors, the Vikings, have not been accorded the credit for their discovery of the new world?”

Now, the war on Columbus is being fought on another front, by followers of Howard Zinn, a protege of Koning. Young scholars in Black Lives Matter and white supremacists of old both call or called for the elimination of Columbus Day. . . an unlikely alliance! A simplistic modern day revisionist history is being taught of “Columbus bad” in place of the simplistic traditional story of Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. Complexity is ignored. Author Mary Grabar criticizes Zinn’s accuracy, “Zinn, however, gives the impression that Columbus personally and gleefully carried out the atrocities. He makes no distinction between Columbus and those who disobeyed his orders.” We Italians are making that distinction. Are you listening?

Italian Americans and Catholics do not celebrate and honor the unintended consequences of Columbus’s voyages, but the man of little privilege, devout Catholic, navigator, and first defender of the Native American Taino people. Columbus never owned a Native but captured prisoners of war (the cannibal Caribs and enemies of Tainos) as was permitted by law. Seeing the humanity of his enemy, the Caribs, Columbus sought to send 500 captives to Spain, convert them to Christianity through teaching, not arms, and return them to the West Indies as evangelists of the Gospel.

In a letter to the nurse of Prince John in 1500, Columbus defends his own reputation against his political adversaries, “They could not then have taken away my honour, and I could not have been in the position to have lost it. God is just, and He will in due time make known all that has taken place and why it has taken place. I am judged in Spain, as a governor who had been sent to a province, or city, under regular government, and where the laws could be executed without fear of endangering the public weal, and in this I receive enormous wrong.” In impossible circumstances, Columbus was the one European trying to achieve what was just.

Which leads us to the question of Thanksgiving: Who is responsible for the destruction and decimation of Native American populations in North America? Notarino continued, “At sunrise, on June 5, 1637, the New England colonists and their Indian allies attacked a Pequot village in Mystic, Connecticut. The sneak attack succeeded in burning alive 600-700 Indians. The Puritan Cotton Mather later described the event and wrote that the colonists called the event a ‘sweet sacrifice’.” Was it the Italians? No! Was it Columbus? No!

But Christopher Columbus is the scapegoat. Why aren’t activists targeting the elimination of Thanksgiving with such fervor? Why, not? The answer: Discrimination. The power and privilege of City Councils are changing in cities across Connecticut, but the outcome for Italians is the same as long as Italian American leaders are ignored. We are Italian-Catholics. We defend Columbus. As you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, ask yourself: Why am I against Columbus Day?

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