Monday, October 9, 2017

Who made whom?

A few years ago I wrote the following short piece on the old, extinct blog, a piece that was itself developed from something I wrote years before that (maybe five years after 9/11) for another guy's blog (since taken down). Every year Christopher Columbus comes under more attack, along with everything else in Western history -- it's not enough that our history must be turned on its head, now it needs to be expunged entirely. But I am still an admirer of Columbus, and the more I've read about him the more I find him to be a brave, persistent, and intelligent sailor. A book I read in the last year about the myths of the Bermuda Triangle informed me of his cool head when his ships were becalmed on the weird Sargasso Sea. 

Anyway, here was my take:

Batman: You killed my parents.
The Joker: What? What? What are you talking about?
Batman: I made you, you made me first.
The Joker: Hey, bat-brain, I mean, I was a kid when I killed your parents. I mean, I say "I made you" you gotta say "you made me." I mean, how childish can you get?

I always think of this around Columbus Day. A couple of years after September 11, 2001, I was thinking about the manifold grievances that the Muslim world claimed to have about America, and all the mean things we did to them since around the time O'Bannon captured Derna in 1805.

Well, if it hadn't been for the Muslim domination of the trade routes to India and China (a domination that was not enforced by sternly worded letters to the editor), Columbus would not have thought to try a Western route to what used to be called the Orient. No Muslim blockade, no discovery of America. They brought us on themselves.

Oh, sure, someone would probably have gotten here from Europe anyway, someone with more staying power than the Vikings, who apparently couldn't find enough houses to steal or stuff to rape or women to burn to want to stick around. (To be fair, although the Northmen had great navigation skills, the Viking colonies outside of Europe were quite cut off from their home countries, which was a problem when things got rough.) 

To make a successful colony would have required better and bigger ships. It also needed someone as clever at navigation as Columbus also was at promotion, someone as brave as a barrel of sharks, someone with enough charisma to keep a small fleet intact on a voyage that could be straight to hell for all anyone knew, a voyage that by anyone's estimation was not exactly a Carnival cruise, then go back, and then do the round-trip again, three more times in all. For most of my life people have been down on Christopher Columbus, but by God the man had more guts than any next thousand guys you meet. There was a time when real courage, sustained over the long term, meant something to people. 

Well, it means something to me. I admire all the virtues, especially those I do not have. 

Happy Columbus Day!

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