The Truth About Christopher Columbus: His Actions and Motivations in The New World

Christopher Columbus Day has become the object of much Left-wing hatred over the past several decades. The once-celebrated navigator is now often vandalized (intellectually as well as literally) as one who was a racist murderer.

It’s apparently an easy vehicle that the Left can use to espouse their hatred for anything in the West. They claim that since millions of natives died when Columbus came over, that he carried out a racist genocide all in the name of “capitalism.” However, upon a more thorough look into Columbus himself, apart from the vehemently anti-Western lenses of contemporary academia, a very different picture is painted.

Who was Christoper Columbus? He was an Italian navigator who sought a charter to sail West, looking for the East Indies. He gained that charter from the Spanish monarchy, and in 1492 set sail on the ocean blue.

The contemporary assumption was that he wanted to exploit the natives there and steal their land and money so that he could keep it for himself, but his own writings reveal a very different motivation.

As Jarrett Stepman discusses for The Daily Signal, Columbus held religious motivations, the goal being the Christianization of those who had not heard the Gospel; far from the idea of simply stealing their land and spreading “white supremacy.”

The truth is that Columbus set out for the New World thinking he would spread Christianity to regions where it didn’t exist. While Columbus, and certainly his Spanish benefactors, had an interest in the goods and gold he could return from what they thought would be Asia, the explorer’s primary motivation was religious.

“This conviction that God destined him to be an instrument for spreading the faith was far more potent than the desire to win glory, wealth, and worldly honors,” wrote historian Samuel Eliot Morison over a half-century ago.

Historians like Howard Zinn have painted a picture of Columbus that is simply not truthful, and one that interprets what happened in that time with contemporary (Marxist) lenses, and also views him in a vacuum, not considering everything else happening in those societies to which he traveled.

The idea that he carried out a genocidal campaign is one of the mot ridiculous claims that the Left has conjured up about Columbus. Genocidal maniac? No, not in the least; quite the opposite was true.

Rather than cruel, Columbus was mostly benign in his interaction with native populations. While deprivations did occur, Columbus was quick to punish those under his command who committed unjust acts against local populations.

“Columbus strictly told the crew not to do things like maraud, or rape, and instead to treat the native people with respect,” Delaney said. “There are many examples in his writings where he gave instructions to this effect. Most of the time when injustices occurred, Columbus wasn’t even there. There were terrible diseases that got communicated to the natives, but he can’t be blamed for that.”

Let’s not forget, while setting the record straight, that Columbus was a fallen being just as every single one of us are. Despite what many of the cultural relativists and Marxists claim, evil does exist in this world and every single person has the potential to do evil because of our fallen nature.

They, ironically, recognize that point implicitly though, by saying that Columbus was evil (though denying other blatant evils in our world like mass murder of unborn children). But that’s for another article…

Unfortunately, millions did die after the arrival of Europeans into the New World. Diseases, which the natives had no immunity against, was the driving force behind the eventual decline in population. Even without the actual campaigns to conquer the natives, from other Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors, the exposure of disease would have done that anyways.

Throughout history, people groups have exploited each other, killed each other, enslaved each other, and oppressed each other. That’s human nature, to do evil things to other people. The idea that Columbus, and the entirety of the West, is the only civilization that has ever done anything bad is simply imbecilic and inexcusably ignorant.

The picture of Columbus painted by the Left is not the true Columbus, a picture that has been revised to portray the man who helped to usher in the growth of Western civilization as the worst human being to ever live. But once again, Leftist history is not really about telling true history, but agenda-setting.