My latest at Real Clear Politics.
Here’s an overview
It’s a minor holiday, but it celebrates something epochal, beyond the success of one brave explorer. His voyage of discovery–and those of others who quickly followed–forever changed the world: they opened the Americas, North and South, to a permanent connection with Europe.
That has continued unabated for over 500 years and led to momentous achievements, from mass democracy to mass prosperity.
Those who attack and deface his statues say, rightly, that tragedy also followed the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.
- Native populations were ravaged by diseases for which they had no immunities.
- Millions of slaves were brought across the Atlantic to dig the mines and harvest the sugar, tobacco, and cotton.
We can face those terrible truths and still celebrate the achievements begun by Columbus. The European voyages of discovery forged a trans-Atlantic world. It is a world in which America and its European partners have created unprecedented levels of human freedom, material comfort, and longevity. That’s a legacy worth remembering—and reclaiming.