Monday, October 12, 2009

Christopher Columbus

Whatever happened to those who would have taken the opportunity to diss old Chris on this, his day? This has been early October sport for at least a generation or possibly more. How can we ever hope to keep every American of Italian descent offended by criticism of that noble explorer if we don’t manufacture outrages on his part while “discovering” the new world.. In the past we have had at least small front page entries in the newspapers or TV film clips celebrating every miscue on his arrival in the America’s.

Have we now decided to just let him rest in peace and ignore the heroics of the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria? Could it be that we have crimes and misdemeanors so severe in our government that they have occluded reportage of Chris’s nefarious efforts to find a route to the Indies? What about those who labored so long to hang black crepe in Columbus Circle in NYC? Have they now joined the unemployed, which total enlarges daily? Possibly we have news sources which prefer to continue fruitless investigations of the CIA and Gitmo over false allegations of the terrors inflicted by the party of intrepid explorers who faced the unknown to locate random islands in the Caribbean.

I have seen exact reproductions of these vessels—one in Columbus, Ohio—and share with you that no sane man would ever contemplate using one for a trans-Atlantic trip. Below decks, the maximum comfortable height for a crewman would be 5’ because that’s the margin between floor and ceiling. Even worse, they used a “hot bunk” protocol which demands that a sleeping man is immediately replaced by one coming off duty. Some cushy trip that was. If, as a crewman, you wanted some relief you go always go topside and enjoy the refreshing spray in your face generated by the typical fall storms in the mid-Atlantic.

Today we shall have to settle for little coverage because those crafty Norwegians have upstaged Chris and provided other, Nobelian, issues to occupy the minds of the pundits. I wonder, today, if that committee would find it in their hearts to reward such an effort in crossing the great sea to lay the groundwork for establishment of a continent of free men. Nah! It was, upon the promise of Isabella, a commercial enterprise to enrich the Spanish government and the intrepid explorer as well. Heaven’s to Betsy, we wouldn’t want anyone to make a profit now would we?

Interestingly, no one can assert that Columbus didn’t keep busy. Wikipedia accuses him of the deaths of 3,000,000 native inhabitants in the fifteen year total of his influence in the Western Hemisphere. Let’s see, that figures out to 547 persons per day. Assuming he rested on Sundays—everything he named had religious significance—that figure would move to 650, or 3900 persons per week. Lacking modern automatic-fire weapons that would have required some awesome physical skills. No wonder he died of complications of arthritic debilitation.

I strongly suspect that the primary criticism of Columbus was his desire to turn a buck on his efforts. Most of the dissatisfaction with his endeavor appear to come from those who, at the same time, see little problem with deaths of over 40,000,000 infants in the United States. Is it not ever thus? After everything which he endured while making ground breaking discoveries, it’s not hard to see why he might have been a little “owley” when he finally got here.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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