The Right View: Columbus did more than sail the ocean blue

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What if you learned that what you’ve been taught about Christopher Columbus is a lie? That what you’ve been told, and what your children are being told about him, is politically driven hogwash, designed to denigrate the very idea of the founding of the Americas?

In honor of Columbus Day, here is some history that some of you may have never heard.

Born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451, by most accounts Columbus was always a seaman. Like many of his time, he was determined to find a westward route to Asia to participate in its legendary gold and spice trade. It is said that Columbus met with kings and queens throughout Europe in order to finance his voyage, but it was not until his third meeting with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain that he obtained the necessary backing to begin his journey.

Ten weeks after setting sail in August 1492, Columbus landed in what we know as the Bahamas, and spent months exploring the Caribbean and Hispaniola. He did not, in fact, “discover America” if by “America” one means the current-day USA. He was a westward-sailing seafarer attempting to reach Asia, who happened to find something else.

However, his journey did open the door to other explorers – John Cabot, Giovanni da Verrazzano, Juan Ponce de León and Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda – who contributed to the knowledge of the existence of what now is the United States.

During this period, the Inquisition, which had been underway in different parts of Europe since the 13th century, had reached Spain (and continued there through the latter half of the 1700s). People deemed heretics were burned at the stake by the thousands, under the edict of Ferdinand and Isabella, if they refused conversion to Catholicism.

In 1492, things became even worse for Jews in Spain. While Muslims and Jews were targeted during the Spanish Inquisition, Jews were expelled from Spain en mass the day before Columbus set sail: “In the same month in which their Majesties issued the edict that all Jews should be driven out of the kingdom and its territories, in the same month they gave me the order to undertake with sufficient men my expedition of discovery to the Indies,” Columbus wrote in his diary.

Thus may begin the part of the narrative of Columbus’ life that perhaps you’ve never heard.

While Ferdinand and Isabella bequeathed Columbus the authority to explore westward in the name of Spain, history is replete with the idea that it was two Jews, Louis de Santangel and Gabriel Sanchez, who actually financed the trip. De Santangel and Sanchez were thought to be part of a movement of Jews called Marranos – those who pretended to convert to Catholicism in order to escape torture and death. Scholars now also believe Columbus himself was a Marrano, as reported by CNN in May 2012.

The Huffington Post caught wind of the story that same month and surprisingly followed up with its own article about the topic. Rather than portraying Columbus as an illegal invader conqueror – which lately is the favorite narrative of the left –the Huff Post article takes care to point out that perhaps Columbus was actually trying to help Jews escape persecution in Spain.

I love the image of some elitist progressive sitting there sipping his latte, reading that article, while the realization that he’s been supporting causes that trash Columbus means he’s actually been against a hero who saved countless Jews from torture and death washes over him.

So the next time anyone asks if you support changing the name of “Columbus Day” to “Indiginous Peoples Day,” you can inquire back, “In the United States, should we celebrate the discovery of the Bahamas by Columbus on Oct. 12 with Bahamian food, festivals and history lessons?” and “Should we ignore the possibility that Columbus was actually a hero to the Jewish people of his day?”

At the very least, this part of history needs to be taught so people can make up their own minds, rather than being indoctrinated by the slanted political narrative that has gone on for too long.

Julie McDonald-Smith lives in North Yarmouth. She is a registered nurse, former Capitol Hill staffer, publicity chairwoman of the Cumberland County Republican Committee, and occasional guest host on WGAN 560AM. Her column appears every other week.

  • Queenie42

    Who writes these textbooks that are in the schools? I doubt if they are liberal elitists. Last time I read anything about textbooks, they were being printed in Texas, but that was years ago.
    I think history always needs updating when new information comes to life. Look at the eye-opening revelations about Richard the Third. If this is true about Columbus, I think he must be given more credit by all of us.
    Now let’s get the publishers to agree. They are still publishing that Richard killed his nephews in the Tower.

  • truther

    This might be the single most bizarre Julie McDonald-Smith piece I’ve yet read. And that’s saying something.

    My head hurts just trying to make coherent sense of all the overlapping incoherencies so instead I’ll just note a few things that come immediately back to my spinning mind. First, she rants about the evil liberal/left agenda to slander Columbus yet the ONLY TWO sources Ms. McDonald-Smith cites for her proposed truth about the man are CNN and the Huffington Post. Pravda wasn’t available? Second, she suggests that Columbus may have in fact been covertly Jewish and engaged in some shadowy effort to ferret Jews-pretending-to-be-Catholics out of Spain, which merely means that some of the latter conquistadores who inflicted so much suffering and plunder on the New World were Jewish instead of Catholic. Third, she offers the image of a latte-sipping progressive who only realizes his horrible decision to hate Columbus right before “death washes over him.” What?!?

    And seriously, if Columbus was a Marrano who “saved countless Jews from torture,” where did those Jews go?

  • Christopher White

    As always, Ms. McDonald-Smith offers another hallucinogenic word salad seeking to disparage ‘latte-drinking liberal elitists’ for … for … for what is it this time? Oh, yeah, for wondering why we celebrate Columbus for sailing west across the Atlantic for Spain, landing in the Bahamas, thinking he’d reached India, and opening the floodgates for European colonization of the “New World”. So, now we’re supposed to shift to good old DD ‘regular’ coffee and become one with the common man in the street as we commemorate him as a clandestine savior of Jews during the Inquisition based on a recent and highly speculative theory that he was, in fact, himself a Marrano Jew?


    Is this writer the best the Forecast can find to write columns from a conservative POV? If so, it shows the paucity of rational and cogent conservative voices in the area. If not, I might go so far as to side with any self-styled conservatives who decides to claim her choice as the Forecaster’s conservative columnist may be evidence of a ‘liberal conspiracy’ to make conservatives look bad.

  • teetime9

    My grandfather used to use the word “flabbergasted” quite a bit when he was feeling a level of astonishment, surprise or shock that was beyond the norm. I think it’s a great word, and certainly one we don’t hear much any more.

    I guess I owe Julie McDonald-Smith a debt of gratitude for bringing back fond memories of my grandfather every time she contributes one of these literary outrages. After reading them I can truly say I know what my old granddad was talking about. Lord help me, but I am flabbergasted!

    Once again I would like to ask the editors at the Forecaster a question I’ve included in previous posts and never received a response to: why? Why do you continue to publish this nonsense?

    As journalists I think you have an obligation to your readers to explain yourselves. When you sit around and discuss which columns will be published, what criteria do you use? I cannot conceive of any rationale that would support the inclusion of this nonsense. Which one of you actually said out loud, “Have you read Julie’s latest column? It really lends insight into this whole Columbus boondoggle.”

    I have a theory. If the sheer volume of comments her column receives is any indication, then JMS is the literary equivalent to the accident on the highway people try to resist but ultimately slow down to view. I think the editors are very aware of this and continue to publish her — not for her literary merit — but as an oddity; a printed sideshow geek for readers to gawk at. Let’s watch the guy bite the head off a live chicken and then go read Julie’s column. Both produce similar levels of fascinated revulsion.

    If I’m wrong, please respond and tell me specifically where I missed the boat. If you do decide to publish a response, I’ll be flabbergasted.

    • pjkslk

      Wait….I need to stop giggling…

      What a perfect description (and hypothesis) of Ms. M-D’s work. Thank you for the chuckle!

  • Dissapointed Again

    Wow. While I’ve never been a fan of JMS’s column, to watch her descent into this sort of incomprehensible ranting is actually a bit sad. I’m not sure what she’s trying to say, or what imagined attack on the right that she’s responding to. She isn’t bombastic for any particular cause here, she’s just tilting at windmills and attacking anything she considers to be an ‘establishment story.’

    This article seems like the literary equivalent of a drowning person thrashing in the water, JMS makes a lot of noise and commotion without accomplishing anything useful. I think it’s time for the lifeguard to drag her into shore, the forecaster should find some new right wing voice to plaster up here. Articles of this poor quality do nothing for anyone in the community, regardless which side of the aisle they sit on.

  • EducateDontEradicate

    At least learn to spell “Indigenous Peoples Day” correctly if you’re going to try and trash it.

  • BradfordPOV

    What if Columbus never sailed? Would they still be calling it “Indigenous People’s Day”?

    In 1492 there were 6 world superpowers.

    1. China
    2. India
    3. Ottoman Empire
    4. Africa
    5. Americas
    6. Europe

    China was #1 but at that time, lucky for us, they had no interest in expanding.Neither did #2 India.
    #3 the Ottoman Empire, headquartered in Saudi Arabia, controlled the entire Mediterranean and was
    only interested in developing new trade partners who they taxed heavily.
    Both #4 and 5, Africa and the Americas were mostly comprised of tribes. In Africa their big business was
    slaves and in the Americas the biggest group was the Aztecs (what happened to them?)

    The inhabitants of the now US of A in 1492 were armed with bows and spears, no match for any of the
    potential and inevitable conquests of the time.
    My question to the Indigenous People’s Day crowd is, “Which one, if not Europe, would they rather have been ruled by”?
    It was just a matter of time !!

  • KC1979

    Oh lord … can’t believe this isn’t an Onion article.