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Columbus Day is especially fun because it fosters the study of revisionist history

Before we get into this stuff about Christopher Columbus, let’s make it clear that “revisionist history,” as mentioned in the headline above, is not necessarily the pejorative right-wingers think it is.

Revision is part of the normal scholarly process of writing history. As new documents and other sources emerge, historical accounts of past events are revised. Without historical revisionism, all sorts of fairy tales would endure forevermore.

Revisionism in the case of Christopher Columbus and his exploratory voyages to the so-called New World has been a thriving cottage industry for decades now. We know far more about Columbus than we did in my childhood days.

When I was a young boy in a Catholic grade school more than 60 years ago, the good nuns portrayed Columbus as a saintly practitioner of our own faith who bravely proved that the world was round and brought civilization and the one true religion to the savages he encountered when he arrived in our part of the planet.

One year, we were even trotted off to a local cinema to see a highly fictional 1949 movie about Columbus starring Fredric March (poster above). I loved it.

But the story of Columbus and his adventures — misadventures, in some cases — has changed a lot over the past half-century. Earnest scholarship has uncovered slants that cast the subject in a different light, much of it uncomplimentary to the man and the circumstances of his explorations.

This new scholarship, in turn, has prompted some folks who disdain historical revisionism to complain about “political correctness,” a term to which they invariably resort in the face of challenges to their comforting parables.

This discord is healthy, of course, because it prompts further study of the subject at issue. It raises questions that merit serious discussion.

Meanwhile, historical revisionism as it applies to Columbus is alive and well in at least one high school near Applesauce World Headquarters (see HERE).

And THIS GUY wonders if  Columbus Day should be renamed Exploration Day.

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6 Comments

  1. History is fun!

    Native Americans also held slaves and killed each other in all kinds of creative ways.

    Columbus wasn’t from 2012 or even 1900. He was a man of his time. Certainly an explorer and adventurer, as well as cruel and inhumane by today’s standards.

    I say keep Columbus day and teach the truth of his history as it is understood.

  2. Publican

    Does Martin L. King Jr. deserve a Federal holiday?

    How about “Diversity Day”?

    There are things that we know about Martin L. King Jr. now that we couldn’t have known even thirty years ago, like the plagiarism. Gotta love word recognition software.

  3. Publican

    Also, Leif Erikson would make Columbus look like a saint.

  4. Publican

    To deny Columbus’s importance to the new world is to deny our existence in the new world, which no doubt some Marxists or other leftists prefer. I am happy where I live. Leif Ericson’s mistake, the reason why there is not a Federal Leif Ericson Day, was that the Vikings either left or died off without establishing further colonies. Leif Ericson is irrelevant to the formation of the new world. The state holidays that recognize Leif Ericson rather than Columbus were established during the decade when progressivism and aryan eugenics was the most popular in the United States. In fact, the very first holiday was started in the state with the most progressives.

  5. Publican (previously known here as Truth About Energy): Your comment above is your dumbest submission since the last time you treated us to some of your global-warming denialism.

    A few points:

    Nobody is denying Columbus’s importance to the New World.

    Nothing in your comment changes the fact that Columbus was not the first European to discover the New World.

    Your reference to “aryan eugenics” is both ungrammatical and a non sequitur. It has nothing whatever to do with political progressivism or with revisionist history of Christopher Columbus and his explorations or with Leif Erickson Day.

  6. dogrescuer

    doc: I agree with you (for once!). Columbus was a major influence on this country, no matter how inaccurate today’s history books are. Keeping Columbus Day and updating the story of his life and accomplishments is the right thing to do, adding to our knowledge rather than burying the facts in the sand.

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