We can all attribute our first-grade history class success to the little mnemonic diddy that cemented New World history into our developing brains: “In fourteen-hundred-ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” This COVID-fraught Columbus Day, maybe we should add a second line that would go a little something like this: “But if the experts had their way, there’d be no America for us today.”
We all know the basic story of Christopher Columbus, the complicated Italian explorer who fell backassward into the discovery of what’s now the Americas on an attempted voyage across the Atlantic to the Orient.
The armchair leftists of the Beltway would have you think only of American Indians on this holiday, which they’ve tried to rename “Indigenous People’s Day.” But there might actually be more applications for our current cultural woes if we focus instead on the expert classes of Columbus’s day — and what the explorer accomplished by ignoring them.
We don’t need to venerate Columbus as a moral role model to recognize the profound ways in which he transformed the world, especially America (insert obligatory caveat about the unforgivable transgressions of historical figures here). And we don’t need to pretend Columbus had it all figured out. He actually had some things pretty wrong, including vastly underestimating the oceanic distance he’d need to cross. And remember how he called the inhabitants of the New World “Indians” because he was a little confused about where he’d beached his boat?
When we think about Columbus this year, however, there’s one part of the story we might highlight and try to emulate, and that’s the explorer’s courage in defying death and his snubbing of the so-called experts who had their facts all wrong.
Most European navigators, the “experts” of Columbus’s age and trade, said a westward voyage from their continent to Asia was impossible and that anyone who tried it would surely die, making the explorer’s attempts at financing nearly impossible. King John II of Portugal and his experts twice rejected Columbus’s appeals for funding. The Spanish savants turned him down too. But despite numerous denials, the courageous and headstrong explorer was undeterred.
After finally securing funding, Columbus made the voyage — landing in the New World accidentally and successfully, in part due to his groundbreaking use of trade winds — despite opposition from the experts and scientists and advisers of his day.
That’s the short version, but an accurate one, and the reason we remember his name and positive contributions on the second Monday of October.
This 2021 iteration, however, finds our North American continent embroiled in a clash between the so-called “experts,” who by coercion and fearmongering attempt to control the working classes, and the headstrong masses, who aren’t convinced the “experts” have it all figured out and who refuse to be strongarmed and intimidated by death.
Today’s so-called experts — of the likes of Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, school boards and teachers unions, and local power-hungry bureaucrats — want you to believe death is lurking right outside your door.
They say government knows best. You must get vaccinated or lose your job. You must keep your face covered whether you’re vaccinated or not. The plummeting economy is no consideration (until it is, and then it’s the fault of the unvaccinated). It’s “too soon to tell” whether you can see your loved ones this Christmas. Church is dangerous, but Met galas and politically favored protests are safe — and might actually slow the spread of the virus. Natural immunity is irrelevant. And we must protect the vaccinated by getting the unvaccinated vaccinated.
If you aren’t buying all that conventional wisdom, you might be losing your job. Or getting your content nuked from Big Tech sites. Or getting dirty looks in the supermarket. Or being forced to mask up in church even though that’s never how worship was supposed to be. Or getting booted from airlines.
Just remember, you aren’t the first one to be balked at by “experts,” and these aren’t the first “experts” to have their facts wrong. But this is America, dammit! And if Columbus hadn’t bucked the experts, we wouldn’t be here today.