For John, BLUF: Enjoy, but reflect. Nothing to see here; just move along.
Or Not. I have been visiting my oldest son, John, and we had lunch at Bahama Breeze with some relatives. While at lunch my Niece, Elizabeth Warren, asked why we still had to celebrate this holiday.
I am not sure. Her view tends to be that Europeans coming to the Western Hemisphere brought serious medical issues that killed millions. On the other hand, what were Isabella and Ferdinand going to do with their Armies, which had recently defeated the Moors, earlier in the year?
If Christopher Columbus had not sailed West would that have stopped exploration? The Chinese had sailed with large fleets to the Arabian Peninsula and to the East Coast of Africa. One of the most famous was Admiral Zheng He. If, instead of giving up far seafaring the Chinese had gone East and landed in North or South America would the result not have been the same?
Then, of course, there is the issue of if Africans came to the Western Hemisphere before Columbus. I think it is quite possible. For sure the Barbary Pirates were making slaves of European Fishermen in the fishing areas of the North Atlantic in the 1600s.
There is nothing magic about Christopher Columbus nor about the 12th of October.♠ However, it is a convenient date to reflect back on the long transition that started with the Columbus expedition sighting land in the Western Hemisphere. It was the lookout for the Pinta, Rodrigo de Triana who sighted land about 2:00 on the morning of 12 October. This was an island in the Bahamas.♥
Given the major changes in the course of World History that came about due to events in 1492, it is appropriate to acknowledge and reflect on them each year. We could pick 2 January, the fall of Granada and the completion of the Reconquista.♦ We could pick 31 March, for the issuance of the Alhambra Decree, expelling all Jews from Spain. I think the date of Columbus' discover of land in North America seems as appropriate, and neutral, as any.
But, celebration should be in terms of reflection.
Regards — Cliff
♠ Heck, we are celebrating it on Monday, the 13th this year.
♥ This is sort of ironic, in that the discussion took place over lunch at the Bahama Breeze in Potomac Mills.
♦ If you look at maps of ISIL's vision of a new caliphate, it includes Spain and Portugal as back in the Muslim camp.