columbus Day is drawing nigh, at least in those communities that have not consigned The Italian navigator to the outer darkness for alleged atrocities against native americans. The celebration of the day that Christopher Columbus and his tiny fleet arrived in the Americas used to be something that united Americans, appreciative of the discovery of a new world where, in the fullness of time, a new nation called the United States was born. That is no longer the case. Columbus has become a flashpoint between those Americans who love their country, warts and all, and those who think that its very foundation was an unmitigated atrocity.

However, the demonization of Columbus may not be entirely fair.

Was Columbus to blame for everything?

Patrick Mason, who describes himself as “a proud member of both the Osage Nation (the Ni-U-Kon-Ska, "People of the Middle Waters," and the Knights of Columbus” takes the Columbus haters to task in a new piece on Real Clear Politics. He suggests that the people who want to Columbus to be wiped out from the calendar are misreading history.

Mason blames Columbus’ reputation on account of a contemporary named Francisco de Bobadilla, who accused the discoverer of America of “brutality” as governor of a Spanish colony in the Americas. However, most Columbus haters do not realize that the “brutality” consisted of hanging Spaniards for mistreating the Native Americans.

Indeed, Mason cites another contemporary of Columbus named Bartolome de las Casas as well as a modern scholarship to suggest that the Italian sailor’s relations with the Native Americans were benign and that he tried to stop the Spanish atrocities that were inflicted on them.

A proper view of American history

That the discovery and the peopling of the Americas by Europeans was not an entirely glorious process, especially from the point of view of the Native Americans, has long been understood.

However, neither were the events after Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 an unrelenting horror either. Both the people who braved the Atlantic to make homes in the New World and those who found themselves facing mass immigration upending their lives and culture possessed measures of good and evil. Changing Columbus Day to “Indigenous Peoples Day” and wallowing in guilt will not change that salient fact.

If history is anything, it should serve as a lesson. Those who inhabit what was once an unknown New World, whenever our ancestors arrived, either thousands of years ago across the Bering Land Bridge or yesterday by airliner need to take heart that what resulted from the 500 years after Columbus was a great nation, a beacon, and defender of freedom, a place that is, if anything, exceptional.