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Did Christopher Columbus Discover The New World?

Dr. Michael Berliner explains why Columbus discovered the Americas and why Columbus should be honored.

Columbus Day approaches and this year has a special meaning. Christopher Columbus is a carrier of Western Civilization and the very values attacked by terrorists on September 11. To the “politically correct,” Columbus Day is an occasion to be mourned. They have mourned, they have attacked, and they have intimidated schools across the country into replacing Columbus Day celebrations with “ethnic diversity” days.

The politically correct view is that Columbus did not discover America, because people had lived here for thousands of years. Worse yet, it’s claimed, the main legacy of Columbus is death and destruction. Columbus is routinely vilified as a symbol of slavery and genocide, and the celebration of his arrival likened to a celebration of Hitler and the Holocaust. The attacks on Columbus are ominous, because the actual target is Western civilization.

Did Columbus “discover” America? Yes–in every important respect. This does not mean that no human eye had been cast on America before Columbus arrived. It does mean that Columbus brought America to the attention of the civilized world, i.e., to the growing, scientific civilizations of Western Europe. The result, ultimately, was the United States of America. It was Columbus’ discovery for Western Europe that led to the influx of ideas and people on which this nation was founded–and on which it still rests. The opening of America brought the ideas and achievements of Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, and the thousands of thinkers, writers, and inventors who followed.

Prior to 1492, what is now the United States was sparsely inhabited, unused, and undeveloped. The inhabitants were primarily hunter-gatherers, wandering across the land, living from hand-to-mouth and from day-to-day. There was virtually no change, no growth for thousands of years. With rare exception, life was nasty, brutish, and short: there was no wheel, no written language, no division of labor, little agriculture and scant permanent settlement; but there were endless, bloody wars. Whatever the problems it brought, the vilified Western culture also brought enormous, undreamed-of benefits, without which most of today’s Indians would be infinitely poorer or not even alive.

Columbus should be honored, for in so doing, we honor Western civilization. But the critics do not want to bestow such honor, because their real goal is to denigrate the values of Western civilization and to glorify the primitivism, mysticism, and collectivism embodied in the tribal cultures of American Indians. They decry the glorification of the West as “cultural imperialism” and “Eurocentrism.” We should, they claim, replace our reverence for Western civilization with multi-culturalism, which regards all cultures (including vicious tyrannies) as morally equal. In fact, they aren’t. Some cultures are better than others: a free society is better than slavery; reason is better than brute force as a way to deal with other men; productivity is better than stagnation. In fact, Western civilization stands for man at his best. It stands for the values that make human life possible: reason, science, self-reliance, individualism, ambition, productive achievement. The values of Western civilization are values for all men; they cut across gender, ethnicity, and geography. We should honor Western civilization not for the ethnocentric reason that some of us happen to have European ancestors but because it is the objectively superior culture.

Underlying the political collectivism of the anti-Columbus crowd is a racist view of human nature. They claim that one’s identity is primarily ethnic: if one thinks his ancestors were good, he will supposedly feel good about himself; if he thinks his ancestors were bad, he will supposedly feel self-loathing. But it doesn’t work; the achievements or failures of one’s ancestors are monumentally irrelevant to one’s actual worth as a person. Only the lack of a sense of self leads one to look to others to provide what passes for a sense of identity. Neither the deeds nor misdeeds of others are his own; he can take neither credit nor blame for what someone else chose to do. There are no racial achievements or racial failures, only individual achievements and individual failures. One cannot inherit moral worth or moral vice. “Self-esteem through others” is a self-contradiction.

Thus the sham of “preserving one’s heritage” as a rational life goal. Thus the cruel hoax of “multicultural education” as an antidote to racism: it will continue to create more racism. Individualism is the only alternative to the racism of political correctness. We must recognize that everyone is a sovereign entity, with the power of choice and independent judgment. That is the ultimate value of Western civilization, and it should be proudly proclaimed.

Copyright (c) 2003 Ayn Rand(r) Institute. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission.

Prime Minster Comments on the FATF Report on “Money Laundering” Listing Non-cooperating Countries

Statement By The Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham, Prime Minister (June 26, 2000)

The Bahamas is surprised and greatly disappointed to be included in a list of uncooperative jurisdictions in relation to the prevention of Money Laundering released by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on June 22, 2000. When consideration is given to the substantial efforts and resources dedicated by The Bahamas to the fight against Money Laundering, it is clear that The Bahamas does not belong on such a list. The Bahamas is resolute in its stance against money laundering and stands firmly with the international community in its fight against drug trafficking, corruption and criminality in all its forms.

Inclusion on the FATF list associates The Bahamas with practices with which it has sought relentlessly not to be connected. The evidence of the success of The Bahamas’ efforts in this regard is that The Bahamas has not been associated with any of the numerous international money-laundering problems experienced in recent years involving other jurisdictions.

The Bahamas understands that the basis for FATF concerns relies principally on the following matters:

  • IBCs which undermine the “Know Your Customer” principle;

  • Trusts which admit an absence of “Know Your Customer” principle;

  • Cross-Border Supervision — difficulty experienced by home-country banking regulators in obtaining information from The Bahamas with respect to banks established in The Bahamas as a result of Bahamian banking laws;

  • Regulation of Intermediaries — the legal authority of intermediaries — lawyers, accountants, and management companies, for example, to hold funds in “Client Accounts” the beneficial ownership of which is not required to be revealed to any central government authority;

  • Provision of Information — relating to tax violations in countries with income tax regimes;

  • Cooperation generally in anti-money-laundering matters;

  • Delays in the processing of applications for assistance under the provisions of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATS);

  • Inadequacy of resources in MLAT and/or money laundering investigations;

  • Exchange of information on tax matters.

The Bahamas Response
Weaknesses in the banking and regulatory systems of The Bahamas brought to light by the Commission of Enquiry in 1984 have been, and continue to be, systematically addressed. As criminal activity became more sophisticated, new and additional legislation and regulatory and supervisory regimes have been put in place. The enhancement of legislative, regulatory and supervisory arrangements in The Bahamas is a continuing exercise.

Thirty-five years ago, The Bahamas took the decision to pursue further economic development by the enhancement of the provision of financial services, which originated in The Bahamas in 1947. The Bahamas enshrined in its statute laws the right to privacy of bank accounts, hence the use of the term “bank secrecy” in The Bahamas.

In 1990, in its efforts to remain competitive with other jurisdictions and facilitate the delivery of international services, The Bahamas, not unlike a number of international centers, created a new vehicle, the International Business Company (the IBC), designed to attract offshore business, including Mutual Funds and international Investment Management business.

IBC legislation permits the incorporation of companies in The Bahamas for the conduct of business outside of The Bahamas whose shares may be transferred by delivery without a requirement that:

1. Officers and directors be required to be publicly disclosed;
2. The business in which they engage be regulated by The Bahamas;
3. The identity of the owners (shareholders) be disclosed.

The laws of The Bahamas have permitted intermediaries — lawyers, for example — to hold monies for persons in “client accounts” whose identities are not disclosed to the depository institution or any public authority.

The developed world — the United States of America, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina, among others — hold the very strong view that monies received from corrupt dealing by public officials, monies derived from criminal activities including drug trafficking and fraud, and monies in respect of which taxes are due and payable, are being banked in places like The Bahamas.

While the enhanced supervision and regulation of The Bahamas Financial Services Sector are matters which have been in process for a number of years, in all circumstances, the Government shall now undertake a comprehensive review of all its laws, regulations and practices to ensure that The Bahamas complies with the best practices pursued by the principal financial centres worldwide — New York, London, Geneva, Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid and Toronto.

It is anticipated that the proposed adjournment of Parliament at the end of July will now be postponed so as to accommodate consideration and adoption by Parliament of additional amendments to bills now before Parliament, including amendments to the International Business Companies Act and the Money Laundering (Proceeds of Crime) Regulations Act. Further, additional amendments to the following legislation will be introduced in Parliament prior to the summer recess:

  • International Business Companies Act

  • The Trustee Act

  • The Banks and Trust Companies Act

  • The Central Bank Act

  • The Money Laundering (Proceeds of Crime) Act

  • The Mutual Legal Assistance Act

Legislation will also be introduced to statutorily establish a Financial Intelligence Unit. It is expected that this legislation and the amendments to the referenced legislation will be adopted by Parliament by the end of August, 2000.

Immediate administrative action will be taken so as to address the systemic delays in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the Office of the Attorney General as regard to the processing of requests for assistance under the provisions of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties.

The Bahamas is not willing or interested to import the proceeds of crime; The Bahamas is not willing to permit strict bank secrecy laws to assist criminals in escaping the reach of the law in their own countries; The Bahamas is not interested in denying timely and adequate responses to cross-border regulatory authorities; The Bahamas is not willing to permit shell companies and other instruments, devices or intermediaries to disguise the true ownership of companies established or funds held in The Bahamas; and The Bahamas is not willing to operate its financial services sector otherwise than in accordance with best practices.

The Bahamas is firm in its resolve to eradicate any opportunity for compromise of the soundness and integrity of its financial services industry.

As a consequence, The Bahamas will respond positively and promptly to the stated concerns of the FATF and the OECD. The Bahamas confidently expects that its laws, regulations and practices will enjoy the respect and confidence of the international community consistent with The Bahamas’ commitment to the highest standards in the conduct of domestic and international business.

Christopher Columbus: A Legacy of Destruction?

Most Columbus Days are marked by rabid condemnations of the explorer as a genocidal maniac bent on destroying the peaceful and innocent native peoples who populated the Caribbean islands which Columbus discovered. These condemnations are not only unwarranted but indicative of the hatred those delivering them have for all that Columbus stood for and brought to the primitive New World. He has been unfairly demonized by politically correct and Marxist historians like Howard Zinn and others.

Two myths regarding Columbus to dispel quickly are 1) that everyone thought the world was flat while he thought it was round and 2) that the legacy of Columbus was one of death and destruction.

Columbus and everyone else who was educated in Europe knew the Earth was round, a fact which had been proven by the Ancient Greeks. What Columbus got wrong was the circumference of the Earth, causing him to think he could sail from Europe to Asia going west, which of course you can, but lucky for him the Americas were in his way or he would have ended up starving.

The legacy of Columbus was not death and destruction. Most Indian deaths were caused by the introduction of diseases that the Europeans brought with them unwittingly. It must also be remembered that the Indians living in the Americas were largely primitive Stone Age level savages who advanced little in the thousands of years they inhabited North and South America. [1] The two built up “civilizations” of the Americas, those of the Incas and the Aztecs, were hardly much better, being built upon irrationality, human sacrifice, and brutal primitivism.

Contrary to the myth of the peaceful natives who Europe unleashed war upon, warfare existed in plenty before Columbus arrived and it continued as the Indians clashed with the European explorers and each other. When Cortes and Pizzaro arrived there were tribes, held in tributary bondage to both the Aztec and Incas, that were more than willing to help in toppling theses “thriving civilizations.” [2]

It’s always asserted that we, like Columbus, stole the land of the Indians. This seems dubious considering the nomadic nature of many of the peoples he encountered and their lack of private property or organized settlements.

What was there to steal?

The land was not in use, evidenced by the pathetic level of any kind of progress, intellectual or material, on the part of nearly all Indian tribes despite thousands of years in lands of great plenty and separated from the other people of the world who could have potentially meddled with them.

What is the true legacy of Columbus? We are. The Discovery of the New World allowed people to start anew away from the absolutist and mercantilist kingdoms of Europe.

All the ideas upon which our country was predicated individual rights, capitalism and limited republican government, were allowed to flourish in an environment far away from the Kings and aristocrats of the Old World.

The Indians, forced either to join civilization or cling to their primitive savagery, became as the nomadic barbarians of the Old World. But unlike their Old World counterparts, the ridiculously low development of Indian “civilization” in comparison to that of the Europeans and the later colonists didn’t allow them to have the same devastating effects the Huns, Mongols, Vikings, Vandals, and others had had. As a result their tribal primitivism and mystical world view was supplanted by the budding fruits of human reason which eventually led to the foundation of the American Republic.

Why are the condemnations of Columbus so visceral and continual year after year? We’re told in college that “all cultures are equal” and that to prefer our culture over any other is “ethnocentrism.” This is absurd. If all cultures are equal then why do people move, predominantly, to prospering societies as opposed to tribal primitive Indian-type societies? The answer is simply that not all cultures are equal. Some cultures are, indeed, better than others.

But the goal of such bromides as “all cultures are equal” is to tear down cultures like ours which are, by every objective standard, far better than the savage primitives out in the middle of forests and oceans who eat other people, or sacrifice them to the sun or volcanoes, or practice any other absurdity.

Humans, having the ability to reason, are in a unique position to prosper far more successfully than any other animal. Columbus was the harbinger of reason for the New World which was devoid of it, a situation which was inexcusable.

Similarly, any defense of the pre-Columbus condition is glorifying perpetual irrational primitivism and death while condemning the introduction of reason and the ideas that flowed from it. Columbus is thus cursed when in fact he should be thanked, not only by us, but by the descendents of the Indians who escaped conditions that, barely better than death, their ancestors experienced millennia after millennia.

Thank you Christopher Columbus.

This article was authored By Alexander Marriott and is reprinted here by permission.

[1] This, of course is not an issue of race. Much like Christian Europe after the fall of Rome until Thomas Aquinas was populated almost exclusively by savages, most of whom were white. They were entirely mystical and backward, much like the Indians of North and South America. Vikings, Huns, and the Germanic tribes that invaded the western half of the Roman Empire were all savages also and they were mostly or entirely white as well. Savagery is the result of persistent individual choice to do nothing and refusing to think. It is caused by the constant individual acceptance of irrationalism and mysticism that has absolutely nothing to do with skin color, location, or ancestry. It was the state of all humans, white, black, brown, and red, for most of human history–if you go back far enough all of our ancestors were savages. It took the actions of individuals to reason things out consistently from one generation to the next, bringing themselves out of stone-age primitivism.

[2] Columbus, like most of the men of his day, accepted the idea of slavery and so he did enslave Indians. This was highly immoral and is a blight upon his record, but, to be fair, the Indians themselves took slaves amongst their various tribes, usually in the form of tributes.