Columbus Day Celebrates Western Civilization
By Thomas Bowden
On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered the New World.
We need not evade or excuse Columbus’s flaws--his religious zealotry, his enslavement and oppression of natives--to recognize that he made history by finding new territory for a civilization that would soon show mankind how to overcome the age-old scourges of slavery, war, and forced religious conversion.
On Columbus Day, we celebrate the civilization whose philosophers and mathematicians, men such as Aristotle, Archimedes, and Euclid, displaced otherworldly mysticism by discovering the laws of logic and mathematical relationships, demonstrating to mankind that reality is a single realm accessible to human understanding.
On Columbus Day, we celebrate the civilization whose scientists, men such as Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and Einstein, banished primitive superstitions by discovering natural laws through the scientific method, demonstrating to mankind that the universe is both knowable and predictable.
On Columbus Day, we celebrate the civilization whose political geniuses, men such as John Locke and the Founding Fathers, defined the principles by which bloody tribal warfare, religious strife, and, ultimately, slavery could be eradicated by constitutional republics devoted to protecting life, liberty, property, and the selfish pursuit of individual happiness.
On Columbus Day, we celebrate the civilization whose entrepreneurs, men such as Rockefeller, Ford, and Gates, transformed an inhospitable wilderness populated by frightened savages into a wealthy nation of self-confident producers served by highways, power plants, computers, and thousands of other life-enhancing products.
On Columbus Day, in sum, we celebrate Western civilization as history’s greatest cultural achievement. What better reason could there be for a holiday?
Excerpts from an op-ed in Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 10, 2008
Columbus was a hero
By Dimitri Vassilaros
Christopher Columbus could not have discovered a better spokesman than Thomas A. Bowden.
The accomplishments of Columbus should speak for themselves. But thanks to political correctness, the moronic multicultural mob keeps talking them down. Mr. Bowden has been speaking passionately and forcefully about Columbus for years.
Bowden is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to advance individual rights as the moral basis for a free society.
"My ancestors were savages," says Bowden matter-of-factly. Everyone can say the same, depending on how far back one is willing to look at lineage. "It's nothing racial or ethnic; it's historical fact."
"Columbus critics have a disguised criticism of Western civilization because Europeans replaced Stone Age Indians. They believe that this continent would have been better off without Europeans, that industrial civilization is an evil that is to be lamented and regretted.
"That is the real criticism of Columbus. I reject it completely."
Indians typically were widely scattered Stone Age tribes, he says. "They had little agriculture and lived in poverty, fear, ignorance and superstition. They had no concept of government, ownership or private property rights.
"Slavery was perfectly common.
Well, didn't Indians at least live in harmony with nature?
"No," says Bowden. "Man should not live in harmony with nature in the sense of simply keeping it pristine. We live by impacting the environment. The environment has no intrinsic value. Our civilization is more in harmony with nature by making it serve our ends."
Well, what about all the land supposedly stolen from the Indians by European settlers?
Indians did not own the vast reaches of land that they traveled on, Bowden says. Ownership of land is deserved, he says. By that, he means a settler can acquire property rights by making the land more valuable by, say, digging it up for farming. Or to build his homestead or business.
Columbus essentially was an explorer and discoverer bringing Western civilization's cures, science and technology, he says. The philosophical legal process was another gift the Europeans gave to the Indians, he says. "Indians got all that for free."
Columbus' critics should fall down on their knees and thank the Founding Fathers for creating a nation based on the moral principle of the individual's right to life, liberty and, Bowden stresses, the selfish pursuit of happiness.
"It's the only nation that came about in such a way. Anyone who has humanity's interest at heart should love America," he says.
Happy Columbus Day