Columbus and Black Arm Band History

“He was the first to open the doors to the ocean sea, where he entered the remote lands and kingdoms which until then had not known our Savior, Jesus Christ, and his blessed name.”

Bartolomé de las Casas

The attacks on Columbus are part of what is called Black Arm Band History, a tactic of some Leftists to reduce the history of their nations, and of Western Civilization in general, to a recital of crimes and grievances.  This is done for political advantage, since one of the major roadblocks to political success for the contemporary Left is patriotism, and thus patriotism is undermined by capturing public education and having Leftist indoctrination take the place of an objective look at the past.  George Orwell, prophet as well as writer, saw this coming:

As faithful readers of this blog know, accurate history is a passion for me.  Black Arm Band History, as all histories that sacrifice the truth for some political aim, is an abomination, and I will fight it as long as I breathe air.

At the end of the year 1492 most men in Western Europe felt exceedingly gloomy about the future. Christian civilization appeared to be shrinking in area and dividing into hostile units as its sphere contracted. For over a century there had been no important advance in natural science, and registration in the universities dwindled as the instruction they offered became increasingly jejune and lifeless. Institutions were decaying, well-meaning people were growing cynical or desperate, and many intelligent men, for want of something better to do, were endeavoring to escape the present through studying the pagan past.

Islam was now expanding at the expense of Christendom. Every effort to recover the holy Sepulcher at Jerusalem, touchstone of Christian prestige, had been a failure. The Ottoman Turks, after snuffing out all that remained of the Byzantine Empire, had overrun most of Greece, Albania and Serbia; presently they would be hammering at the gates of Vienna….

With the practical dissolution of the Empire and the Church’s loss of moral leadership, Christians had nothing to which they might cling. The great principle of unity represented by emperor and pope was a dream of the past that had not come true. Belief in the institutions of their ancestors was wavering. It seemed as if the devil had adopted as his own the principle “divide and rule.” Throughout Western Europe the general feeling was one of profound disillusion, cynical pessimism and black despair….

Lest any reader feel an unjustified optimism, the Nuremberg chroniclers place 1493 in the Sixth or penultimate Age of the world, and leave six blank pages on which to record events from the date of print to the Day or Judgment.

Yet, even as the chroniclers of Nuremberg were correcting their proofs from Koberger’s press, a Spanish caravel named Nina scudded before a winter gale into Lisbon with news of a discovery that was to give old Europe another chance. In a few years we find the mental picture completely changed. Strong monarchs are stamping out privy conspiracy and rebellion; the Church, purged and chastened by the Protestant Reformation, puts her house in order; new ideas flare up throughout Italy, France, Germany and the northern nations; faith in God revives and the human spirit is renewed. The change is complete and startling: “A new envisagement of the world has begun, and men are no longer sighing after the imaginary golden age that lay in the distant past, but speculating as to the golden age that might possibly lie in the oncoming future.”

Christopher Columbus belonged to an age that was past, yet he became the sign and symbol of this new age of hope, glory and accomplishment. His medieval faith impelled him to a modern solution: expansion. If the Turk could not be pried loose from the Holy Sepulcher by ordinary means, let Europe seek new means overseas; and he, Christopher the Christ-bearer, would be the humble yet proud instrument of Europe’s regeneration. So it turned out, although not as he anticipated. The First Voyage to America that he accomplished with a maximum of faith and a minimum of technique, a bare sufficiency of equipment and a superabundance of stout-heartedness, gave Europe new confidence in herself, more than doubled the area of Christianity, enlarged indefinitely the scope for human thought and speculation, and “led the way to those fields of freedom which, planted with great seed, have now sprung up to the fructification of the world.”…

In his faith, his deductive methods of reasoning, his unquestioning acceptance of the current ethics, Columbus was a man of the Middle Ages, and in the best sense. In his readiness to translate thought into action, in lively curiosity and accurate observation of natural phenomena, in his joyous sense of adventure and desire to win wealth and recognition, he was a modern man.

Samuel Eliot Morrison, Admiral of the Ocean Sea:  A Life of Christopher Columbus (1942)

More to explorer


  1. That picture at the top nearly made me LoL.

    Which is funny because I was just thinking this morning, “why do those who say nationalism is evil believe colonialism is evil?”

  2. “The great principle of unity represented by emperor and pope was a dream of the past that had not come true. Belief in the institutions of their ancestors was wavering.”
    The great principle of unity is the sovereign personhood of the human being made in the image and likeness of God in free will and immortal soul. Salvator Mundi.

  3. Columbus was an explorer, a navigator, and the discoverer of the new world. No fair cannibalizing the neighbor; sacrificing the neighbor instead of oneself, Religion is an intimate relation ship between man and God, No need to sacrifice the neighbor, only oneself in love and obedience.

  4. Certainly the Reconquest was a major point in history in the struggle against Islamist expansionism. The energy built up in Castile due to the success of the Reconquest led to the Age of Exploration. One of Alinsky’s tactics was to openly and endlessly criticize that which he wanted destroyed. Alinsky’s infiltration into the Church is part of the reason the American Church is silent on any issue but poverty and always demands welfare state expansion.

    More tumult awaited the church in the 16th century. Luther, Henry Tudor and the Borgias we know about. The Ottomans, though defeated at Lepanto, raided the Mediterranean coast for plunder and slaves. The Catholic kingdom of Hungary was invaded and nearly destroyed by the Ottomans. Protestants meandered in and swore fealty to the Turks in exchange for lands once Catholic.
    Yet, there were three bright lights to come. There would be the Council of Trent. Spain and Portugal spread the Faith from Tierra del Fuego to the southern USA. France spread the Faith in Quebec. Finally, the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth was formed. The Unions of Uzhorod and Bredt Litvosk were completed and the Commonwealth was a bulwark against the spread of Lutheranism (Sweden) and the Ottomans.

  5. The Italians on my mother’s side of the family came from Genoa. I like to think it at least possible for there to be at least one drop of blood associated with the great Admiral of the Ocean Sea in my veins. Looking up Genoa, I found this: “The ancient name of Genoa comes from the word “knee” (Genua) or the gate to the sea or “jaw”, the mouth to the sea. It was founded around 2,000 B.C. by the Phoenicians who sailed in from Tyre in Phoenicia.” Genua, as in Genuflect. Interesting!

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