Toppling a statue of Christopher Columbus and submerging it in a lake ill serves Virginia and our noble multicultural republic. Moreover, substituting violence for reason does a disservice to the peaceful George Floyd protesters. It also undermines one of America’s founding precepts: E pluribus unum — “Out of many, one.”
As an Italian sailing for Spain, Columbus was caught in the crossfire among the Spanish crown, its conquistadors and the indigenous peoples. Some of the tribes he encountered were genteel and hospitable. Others engaged in pillaging, human sacrifice and cannibalism.
No historian will confuse Columbus with Saint Francis of Assisi. However, Cristoforo Colombo was neither a Hernan Cortes nor an Andrew Jackson. And he had no affiliation with the Confederacy.
He did not engage in hemispheric genocide. Nor did he initiate the African slave trade. In fact, Columbus never set foot in North America.
His perilous trek across the Atlantic Ocean represents the triumph of humanism writ large. It was the rebirth of classical antiquity that we call the Italian Renaissance. And this rinascimento sparked a sea change in the tide of history, leading to our complex modernity.
His journey of discovery joined two worlds. It’s called the Columbian Exchange. Absent the Columbian Exchange, there would be no American republic — a polity dedicated to the notion that “All men are created equal.” Filippo Mazzei bequeathed this foundational credo to Thomas Jefferson.
Francis Bellamy penned the Pledge of Allegiance to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ first voyage.
Repudiating Columbus is rank revisionism that calls to mind George Orwell: “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
Rosario A. Iaconis.
Chairman, The Italic Institute of America.