Christopher Columbus - Exaggeration of Evil

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
Post Reply
User avatar
dande48
Posts: 967
Joined: 24 Jan 2016, 16:35
Location: Wherever there is danger

Christopher Columbus - Exaggeration of Evil

Post by dande48 » 10 Aug 2018, 13:45

I came across this youtube video: In Defense of Columbus; An Exaggerated Evil. I was surprised to find it actually changed my mind. Not only that, but it really helped emphasize the dangers of black and white thinking. The point of the video was, yes, by today's standards, Christopher Columbus was a pretty bad dude. Yes, it's probably a dumb idea to have a holiday to celebrate him. But he's not as awful as people make him out to be.

In the context of Joseph Smith, people either think he's next to Jesus in goodness, or the devil incarnate. Same for Jesus. Either He was God, a lunatic, or of the devil. I think we tend to think binary about most people. But when you look at things closer, it all gets a lot more complicated. We like to put things into categories of "good" or "bad". And in doing so, we emphasize the details which support our position, and diminish or reject the details which do not. It makes things simpler... but it's not how things really are.

It was a good reminder to me. I hope you enjoy it.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

User avatar
SamBee
Posts: 4898
Joined: 14 Mar 2010, 04:55

Re: Christopher Columbus - Exaggeration of Evil

Post by SamBee » 10 Aug 2018, 14:27

Spain discovered the Americas at a bad time. They were coming out of the Inquisition, and they exported that and it entrenched itself in their colonies after it had died out in Spain itself.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

User avatar
On Own Now
Posts: 1610
Joined: 18 Jan 2012, 12:45

Re: Christopher Columbus - Exaggeration of Evil

Post by On Own Now » 13 Aug 2018, 10:49

I like to think of Columbus himself as binary. The Columbus up to and including the Oct 12, 1492 version was an independent, daring, and capable explorer. The Columbus of the post-discovery was a corrupt and violent administrator. Depending on your view, you tend either to see one or the other. The fledgling United States identified strongly with the good-Columbus persona. So much so, that two of our state capitals (Columbus, OH and Columbia, SC) are named for him and even our Nation's Capital can be found in the District of Columbia.

FWIW, Oct 12 wasn't Columbus' birthday. It marks the day of discovery. From that standpoint, it has much less to do with Columbus and much more to do with this hugely significant event in world history. Unfortunately, we call it "Columbus Day".

Also FWIW, in Mexico, the day is observed as "Dia de la Raza" (Day of the Race). It marks the genesis event for the Mestizo People (Indigenous/European). I think this is a much better way to think of it.

Finally, I have often seen Columbus tied to the depopulation of the Americas because of the introduction of European diseases. This is kind of non-nonsensical. The spread of smallpox from Europe to America and syphilis in the reverse direction, as well as all other diseases was an inevitability. The Discovery was going to happen one day, with or without Columbus.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16014
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Christopher Columbus - Exaggeration of Evil

Post by Curt Sunshine » 13 Aug 2018, 12:51

Well said, OON. I really can't add to your comment.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

User avatar
On Own Now
Posts: 1610
Joined: 18 Jan 2012, 12:45

Re: Christopher Columbus - Exaggeration of Evil

Post by On Own Now » 24 Aug 2018, 06:46

Dande48, I finally got around to watching the long, but very insightful youtube you posted. I think this is completely relevant for us here, because, as you pointed out, it is easy to see the same demonization approach being thrown at JS, BY, ETB, TSM and our LDS leaders generally.

JS did a lot of things I deplore, but he also did a lot of things I admire. I always remind myself that most of his close associates stayed with him, he created something wonderful (though his constant tinkering poisoned some of it), he clearly thought of himself as an oracle of God (I use his JST for the basis of this realization; he worked on it from 1830 until the end), and he ultimately lost his own life for the cause. We commonly judge him from our perch in the 21st century, which is unfair.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

Post Reply