Monday, October 13, 2014

The wrong discoverer?

On Columbus Day, via Instapundit, from 2002, "Celebrating Wrong Italian?":
.... I do not particularly sympathize with the demonization of Columbus Day by the politically correct, although I do not think the injustices suffered by our Siberian-American fellow immigrants should be glossed over. However, I think Columbus Day should be reconsidered as a U.S. holiday for a different reason. I am fundamentally in agreement with the Hispanosphere nationalists on one point: Columbus's voyage was very specifically the initiation of the contact between Spain and Spanish America. .....

It makes more sense to think of the European encounters with the Americas as three distinct main streams: one was the Spanish movement to the Caribbean, Mexico, Peru, and ultimately other areas, stemming from Columbus's voyage; another was the Portuguese movement to Brazil, which was intimately linked to their explorations of Africa predating Columbus; and the third was the stream of peoples from the British Isles and ultimately elsewhere to North America....

Although Cabot's voyage to Newfoundland was undoubtedly spurred by news of Columbus's voyages, the expanding English maritime enterprise would sooner or later have recapitulated the Viking achievements in the North Atlantic. ....

Whatever the realities of these theories, it is the expansion of the cultures and traditions that form the template on which today's societies in the U.S. and English Canada that we should commemorate. Columbus, whatever his merits and demerits may be, is in this regard beside the point. If Americans of Italian descent wish to point with pride to a predecessor in discovery, perhaps we should look at Giovanni Caboto, another Italian navigator. Moving to England, he adopted the English style of his name and became known to history as the discoverer ... John Cabot.

Not only did Cabot's discoveries spark the great stream of human migration that became the English-speaking New World, he was himself a precursor of the millions of Italians who crossed the Atlantic to North America and became part of the English-speaking world, to its and their own enrichment. ....