a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Columbus was bigger than the Internet

Students from Christ Lutheran Church and School in Forest Hills, Pa., tour replicas of Christopher Columbus' Pinta, foreground, and the Nina this week, ships that have been drawing huge crowds in Pittsburgh.

By Scott Beveridge

PITTSBURGH – A friend sparked a mild controversy about Christopher Columbus Sunday morning when she posted our plans on Facebook to tour replicas of the explorer’s famous ships that are temporarily docked in Pittsburgh.

One of her other friends quickly chimed in that he isn’t much into Columbus, who stumbled onto the West Indies in 1492 by mistake while looking for a sea route to Asia.

“I don't buy into the Columbus BS. He didn't discover anything,” this guy added to her thread.

He must have missed the part of the story that modern historians pretty much accept the notion that Viking explorer Leif Ericson found his way by boat to America 500 years before Columbus raided part of the continent. Back then, no one remembered the Ericson story anyway because the world as nearly everyone knew it was stuck in the Dark Ages until Columbus assembled a crew for long distance travel.

And then there are those who have been lobbying to repeal the U.S. Columbus Day holiday that falls on the second Monday of each October. They are upset over his brutality toward the natives, acts that paved way for the advancement of slavery.

OK he was not a nice guy, but let’s get over it after all these centuries.

Columbus’ biggest accomplishment involved the fact that his journey ushered the world into the Age of Enlightenment by shattering beliefs the Earth was flat and he was leading his three ships off the edge of the planet.

His navigational skills then helped to convince mankind to look to science for answers rather than put all of its trust within leaders of the church.

That was huge, bigger than the discoveries of the Internet and cell phone, combined.

The Nina and Pinta are owned by the Columbus Foundation and have been traveling the Western Hemisphere since the 1980s. The foundation never completed the third Columbus ship, the Santa Maria, whose original sank off the coast of Haiti. The new boats are docked alongside North Shore Drive beside Heinz Field and open for tours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily until they shove off Nov. 15 and head down the Ohio River to the Mississippi and Gulf of Mexico for the winter.

A painting of Queen Isabella of Spain seeing Christopher Columbus off on his voyage that would lead to the discovery of the New World.

1 comment:

Bill said...

I remember that the the late PA Supreme Court Justice Michael Musmanno was a staunch defender of Christopher Columbus. He was very proud of his Italian heritage and any mention of the Vikings discovering America was met with disdain.