I’m reading a thriller where several people are hunting for some sort of Jewish treasure that Columbus apparently took with him on his final voyage in an effort to protect the articles from the inquisition. The premise of the story is based on the theory that Columbus was a Jew who converted to Christianity as a way of avoiding being tortured and killed, and that his name was not Columbus. Columbus was his adopted Christian name, not his real name. Supposedly, he did not set out on his journey to prove that the earth was round or even to hunt for an easier route to the Spice Islands. He was actually looking for a place where Jews could live in peace, so his backers were predominately Jewish.
I was already aware of these theories, so that is nothing new. What the book did was make me think of what is going on in the world today with all the fights over statues and renaming of holidays.
Columbus Day was originally a New York holiday to honor Italian-American heritage. Franklin Delano Roosevelt made the day into a national holiday, and therein lies the problem, including that of a nearby city. A statue of Columbus resides in the middle of that city, a century-old memorial to its large Italian-American population, but a vocal element wants to tear down the statue, as if Columbus were personally responsible for all the ills of this country, which is silly. Columbus never even set foot in North America, and in fact, was only one of the many seafaring people who managed to cross the ocean, some even thousands of years previously.
The truth is, there are no Native Americans. All of us, even the American Aborigines, are immigrants from elsewhere. There are signs that people from all over the world, for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, were enveloped into and contributed to the development of “native culture.”
The problem is not with Columbus but with an overpopulated world — at the time, the arable land in Europe was divided up and owned by the nobility. People with no other options needed a place to go to start a new life, and here was a whole continent (two continents, actually) where few people lived and harsh laws (except for the harsh laws of nature) had yet to take hold.
The wave of Europeans came decades after Columbus’s voyages, so none of that is to his credit or discredit. The times and a dying way of life were the real culprit.
Still, even if you believe the myth that Columbus discovered America, destroying statues of him (which aren’t really of him since no one knows what he looks like) is utterly hypocritical. If people think we are wrong for being here, they can always go back where they came from. Tearing down a statue, renaming a holiday, apologizing for things someone’s ancestors did (not mine — mine were still living in feudal countries and didn’t even come here until the twentieth century) in no way changes the past. No one is seriously considering making reparations and giving the country back to the Indians, and why should they? If the various tribes had been less obsessed with their traditional enemies and had banded together against the new one, they could have halted the population growth at the Mississippi River. At least for a while. But a time that has come, has come. There is no stopping it.
Which brings me to the whole idea of reparations. If the BLM has their way and they are granted reparations, who is to pay them? Those of us whose ancestors were not even here? That’s absurd. So who? England? After all, the slaves were first brought here when the area was still under control of England. And later, the slave area was under the control of the Confederacy. They could be paid with Confederate dollars; I’m sure there are plenty of such dollars in collections. And yet — signs of the Confederacy, such as statues, are being destroyed. If we’re writing history to erase the whole slave era, then who’s to pay? There’s no one left.
Sheesh. Here I’ve been doing so well staying away from the news and local issues and all the conundrums of our times, and an awful book brings me back. (Awful because there are too many separate stories and too much redundancy since each of the stories is basically a repetition — hunting treasure and killing people. Worst of all, huge portions of the book are in Italics, and Italics always tell me that particular portion is not part of the book and so I skip it.)
For my own peace of mind, I might have to give up reading, too.
If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a quarantine that predated this pandemic by more than ten years, you can read the first chapter online here: http://patbertram.com/A_Spark_of_Heavenly_Fire.html
Buy it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0024FB5H6/
Download the first 30% free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1842