After witnessing the recent spectacle of a significant minority of U.S. senators endorsing the presumption of guilt, this week Americans can turn to various media for fresh assaults on Western tradition.
CNN reports that “more cities and states are scrapping Columbus Day to honor the people who were here first — and who suffered greatly after Columbus’ arrival. Just this year, at least a dozen US cities — including San Francisco and Cincinnati — decided to stop observing Columbus Day and will instead celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday.”
Even Columbus, Ohio is scrapping the holiday in honor of the explorer for whom the city is named, though local officials are presenting it as a decision driven by budgetary concerns.According to USA Today:
Ohio’s capital city is the most populated city named after Columbus, with 860,000 people in the 2016 U.S. census. The city, however, lacks the funding to give its 8,500 employees both Veterans Day and Columbus Day off, said Robin Davis, a spokesperson for Mayor Andrew Ginther.
Some members of the American press corps could perhaps celebrate themselves with a new Ingrateful Peoples Day given contemporary coverage of the civilization that has done so much to enable freedom of the press, among other rights. Rather than focusing on Columbus’ faults—real and perceived—Angela Rocco DeCarlo suggested another approach in a Journal op-ed last year:
It’s intellectually dicey to judge those who lived hundreds of years ago according to modern norms. Doctors who routinely infected women during childbirth out of ignorance of the germ theory of disease are not reviled today. But European explorers who were similarly ignorant about how diseases are spread are routinely abused for the illnesses that befell inhabitants of the New World from lack of natural immunity.
The Columbian exchange benefited Old World and New by spreading knowledge of science, agriculture and nutrition. Without Columbus, the Renaissance may not have succeeded. Without his discoveries, Italians wouldn’t have marinara sauce, the Irish wouldn’t have mashed potatoes, and the Swiss wouldn’t have chocolate. Because America and its freedoms exist, children no longer contract polio and many other diseases. America saved the world from totalitarianism twice in the last century.
Today Columbus’s reputation is under siege. But those seeking to delegitimize the Genoan explorer’s legacy may actually have a larger target in mind. Statues of Columbus and tributes to his achievements are in many ways proxies for the Western tradition of freedom, liberty and the rule of law. America had better protect Columbus and win this war. There is no one else to save the world next time around.
Speaking of saving the world from totalitarianism, leftists on Twitter today are trying to make people forget that Winston Churchill warned against both Nazi and Soviet tyranny—and then played an enormous role in defeating them both. In a monument to postmodern digital confusion, former astronaut Scott Kellyapologized for a respectful mention of Churchill after ill-informed Twitter users wrongly blamed the former British prime minister for atrocities committed by his World War II enemies.
For those interested in learning about Churchill’s gargantuan role in the great 20th century battles for liberty, they might start by reading his June 18, 1940 speech to the House of Commons:
I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”
Speaking of empires, the New York Times opted on Friday for a cheap shot tying colonialism to the U.S. First Lady:
A half a world away from the spectacle of Washington, Melania Trump still managed to create one of her own during a Kenyan safari on Friday, riding out into the grassland wearing a crisp white pith helmet — a common symbol of European colonial rule.
It may not have been the most glaring faux pas the hyper-scrutinized Mrs. Trump has ever made. That title probably goes to the “I really don’t care. Do U?” jacket she wore on the way to visit detained migrant children in Texas in June.
But to some — especially those who study African history — her fashion choice in Kenya was still a big error on the global stage: the sight of a first lady wearing something so closely associated with the exploitation of Africans.
Actually the piece contains multiple cheap shots, including the reference to a jacket she did not wear in Texas in June. Readers will no doubt also notice in the latest Times story that the only people quoted by name criticizing the First Lady’s wardrobe are academics at U.S. universities, not Kenyans.
Lost in the mists of history, the New York Times seems to have believed as recently as 2007 that the pith helmet could be part of a compelling fashion ensemble:
This season, the call of the wild sounds more like a primal scream. From top to toe, pith helmet to platform shoe, animal prints are back with a vengeance. Not that they ever went away. A perennial favorite, they emerge in some degree every autumn, as reliable as the Thanksgiving turkey, and for some, just as enticing.
It seems that at the New York Times, attacking the Trump family never goes out of fashion.
As for Columbus and Churchill, this column can’t say for sure that their achievements will be remembered for a thousand years, but is certain that most of their Twitter detractors will be forgotten in an instant.