Cartoonist’s note: I’ve been on the road some lately, and I’ve tried to update as I could. I’m sorry it’s been sporadic, but that might continue for another week or so. Thank you for any concern, but I am fine. In my defense, the following post was supposed to have loaded Monday morning but didn’t. If it had, I might still be getting away with it.
It’s Columbus Day. These days there is a lot of ambivalence attached to Christopher Columbus and his legacy, largely because what many of us were taught about him in grammar school was wrong. To start with one small untruth, he did not take seriously the possibility that his three ships would sail off the edge of the earth. By 1492, it was widely held that the earth was not flat. His expectations basically were sound; the circumference of the earth just turned out to be thousands of miles bigger than he anticipated, not to mention that inconvenient land mass that would become known as the Americas. And he did not, of course, “discover” them, as his landfall inevitably was described in the classrooms of my youth. Millions of people between what are now Alaska and Tierra del Fuego had been going about their business for thousands of years before 1492. Plus, Columbus was not even the first European to arrive in the “new” world. Fishermen and even fleeting settlers beat him to that by centuries. However, Chris was the first European to put down trans-Atlantic stakes that endured. For better or worse, hundreds of millions of lives would be changed. Sure, it somehow would have happened eventually, but he was the first to hang his bloomers over the edge, so he gets the parade every year.