A narrative is being promulgated that is both narrowly constructed and selectively applied, which states that America was founded upon a patriarchal system propped up by white supremacy, sexism, and entrenched colonialism. So deeply rooted are these adverse characteristics that the American populace is in need of a fundamental re-education. No historical figure seems to embody this struggle more than Christopher Columbus.
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Once viewed as a heroic discoverer of America and namesake of our Nation’s capital, Columbus’ name is now synonymous with all that needs to be erased from human existence. Despite Columbus’ unsavory reputation as an evil patriarch, it was a matriarch who gave his journey life. Queen Isabella of Spain commissioned and financed Columbus’ voyage to the New World. During her reign, Queen Isabella sought to create an overseas empire for Spain and Columbus served as her hired gun to achieve these ends. If not for her own desires and stewardship, Columbus would have remained a historic nobody. Just as esteemed universities such as Stanford and Yale bear the names of their benefactors, could it not be said that America was discovered by a Spanish woman?
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ (D-NY) political ascendency is due in large part to her ardent and vocal support of this narrative. But does a broader view of history complicate her messaging? For instance, the Spanish were heavily invested in the African slave trade as evidenced by large Black populations in the Caribbean and throughout Latin America. In 1521, Spain introduced slavery in Puerto Rico, and their colonialism explains why many of our southern neighbors are Spanish speaking Catholics. Portugal also has a legacy of slavery, as African slaves were forced to work on Brazilian sugar plantations until the practice became illegal in 1888, more than 20 years after the American Civil War ended.
Hernan Cortes (1485 – 1547) was a Spanish conquistador and in addition to his many exploits in Honduras, Cuba and Central America, he was chiefly responsible for eradicating the Aztec Indians and conquering present day Mexico for Spain. Cortes’s conquest involved capturing Montezuma and murdering thousands of indigenous people before converting the Aztec Capitol of Tenochtitlan, into Mexico City. For his troubles, King Charles of Spain awarded him a governorship. Francisco Pizarro, a Spaniard, engaged in similar genocidal actions, as he devasted the Inca Empire in his conquest of Peru. Given that Latin American countries have similar historic origins to America, how exactly do the people living below our southern border escape the same ancestral guilt ascribed to everyday Americans? Why would so many people risk life and limb to get here, if America is so foundationally flawed?
Furthermore, to alleviate our inherent unfairness and white supremacy, many politicians advocate for full adoption of the Scandinavian style of government, particularly their tax policy, healthcare system, and standardization of economic outcomes. This very notion platformed both of Senator Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaigns, as he routinely extolled their virtues during his many critiques of America. The irony is somehow missed, as Scandinavian countries are overwhelmingly White, and if similar standards are applied, these same politicians could be accused of promoting white supremacy themselves. Additionally, much of Scandinavian history resembles white supremacy on steroids. The Vikings were bands of White Norsemen, who conquered, pillaged and enslaved. They even engineered specially crafted vessels that could navigate both deep ocean waters and shallow inlets to make their marauding dreams a reality. The Vikings so perfected the art of the onslaught that an NFL football team bears their name, and an overweight white guy is their mascot. Interestingly, the Scandinavians receive an ancestral pass for their past transgressions not afforded to America and other team mascots.
One may be quick to blame Western Civilization, but barbarity occurred throughout Eastern Civilizations as well. The collapse of the Roman Empire was hastened by attacks from Asiatic tribes, and the Mongols routinely enslaved the vanquished. The morality of one culture or country ransacking another wasn’t really addressed until after World War II, which only occurred at great American expense.
Slavery in this country only ended after a bloody civil war, and much human suffering remained in the aftermath, but the travesties of the past are not uniquely American. However, the concept of individual liberty is uniquely American, as each person is free to use their God-given abilities and unique personal attributes to build a life of their choosing. The American melting pot is not predicated upon group identity, but rather, a shared ideal that each person’s hopes, goals, and dreams not only matter, but can be fully lived and experienced. Gratefully, our founding fathers had the humility and vision to create a government where all men are created equal, instead of crafting a system where self-anointed experts can mandate equity. And this why people are literally dying to live here.
Art Kleinschmidt, PhD
Art Kleinschmidt is a regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative and a former President Trump appointee who served as Deputy Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He also served on the Domestic Policy Council and as a Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary at SAMHSA.