Giving Thanks to Christopher Columbus

Today is Thanksgiving in Canada, Columbus Day in America.

Down south, leftists have been very aggressive in trying to defame Columbus as some sort of evil slaveholder who destroyed the peaceful people who were here since time immemorial.

Martok a few years ago was talking with one of the "good Indians" as the old phrase goes: a guy who rejects this #IdleNoMore nonsense and wants to be realistic about what would have happened to North America without Columbus sailing the ocean blue in 1492.

Do Red Indians today really believe that it was only a unique "evil" of white Europeans that led to the lands they (now) claim as their own being seized by a colonial power expanding across the earth? Yes, though this really makes no sense on the face of it. For starters, over at L'Anse Aux Meadow there was already a European port being built (but ultimately abandoned). Meanwhile the Vikings routinely were sailing to Labrador to cut down trees as late as the 1400s, so it's not like if only that crazy Columbus hadn't believed the world was round and sat still in Portugal, nobody would have come out this way and the Red Indians would be sitting pretty all by their little lonesome.

In case you were unaware, by the way, Columbus didn't sail to prove the world was a sphere. That's been known since the dawn of sail, and the radius was even first calculated by Eratosthenes around 200BC. However there was some scholarly disagreement about how to turn Eratosthenes' stradia into feet which led to two different calculations of the Earth: Columbus belonged to the Ptolemy camp that believed his measurements were an 18000 mile circumference. As the American Physical Society remarks, had Columbus known the 25000 mile number he wouldn't have risked the trip.

Eventually somebody would have come out this way. Even if you presumed that Europeans didn't ever dare cross the impenetrable ocean in wooden sailing ships, did you think they would stay on the east side of the Atlantic even after (inevitably) building iron steamships? Eventually even without finding North America we would end up orbiting the earth and somebody might just remark "hey, look at that big continent in the middle of what we thought was an unending ocean from Liverpool to Tokyo".

But getting back to the aforementioned good Indian, his question to his kin was what they expected would happen when their stone aged society was found by a far more powerful and far more advanced civilization that came across them. There are a small number of "unconnected" tribes, but even then we're talking about people who don't chat with their more advanced neighbours rather than being totally isolated and unaffected by them: if no European settlers ever went north of Helena or west of Winnipeg and instead simply engaged in long-distance fur trading Red Indians would still be a nomadic people not ever really occupying any land. Face it, when other cultures discovered there was a lot of (essentially empty) land and resources they would be coming for them.

As it was, Canada was discovered by the British. While these days the Brits are scoffed at as "imperialist colonizers" in reality that was pretty much the best possible country to show up here: they made (and, despite the lies of activists, honoured the terms of) treaties even though in reality the tribes who they signed with had little or no actual claim over much of the land they were supposedly signing over. Unlike the French who slaughtered every Beothuk they could find in Newfoundland, or the Spanish who were notoriously bloodthirsty in southern and central America and within 50 years of Columbus had conquered the entire southern continent.

In fairness to the Spanish, they also had by far the more powerful and entrenched 'indigenous' populations to deal with. The Incas and Aztec were actual societies and while not technologically civilized they at least had a rudimentary legal system and standing army.

But what the good Indian brought up, which rarely gets discussed, is what if the Europeans never made it here at all? I sort of discussed this above, but only our own Euro-centrism makes us think of Europe solely the entity that would have made it out here. If there was some imagined cultural block of the Europeans sailing the Atlantic, that still doesn't count the other ocean. I mentioned Tokyo earlier and it wasn't by accident. What if, instead of being found by white Europeans, it was instead found by the yellow Japanese?

Japan was a fair bit behind the Europeans in naval technology and the Pacific is a more formidable ocean, so they weren't sailing it in 1492, or probably even 1592 (the Sengoku period ended in between 1560 and 1615 and that cultural change was also motivated by Europeans discovering Japan: we probably shouldn't allow for that contact in our imaginary world). The Edo period from 1603-1868 would likely be when a no-contact Japan started moving out into the world. While the real Edo period was socially isolationist, if everywhere south and west they sailed other cultures were found it would make sense to sail east. The coastal warships would be evolved into more rugged blue water units that would sail into Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands, and discover in both locations a primitive non-Japanese society that could be conquered easily, and viciously. Continuing east to the Pacific Coast of Canada and the United States they would discover a wild open and untapped wilderness ripe for the taking...with a few pesky non-Japanese tribes (basically Mongolians) to be eliminated. Violently.

If you didn't already know, here's a chart of how the Japanese consider other races. Note that their view of whites is coloured (to borrow a term) by how much whites have been able to culturally and technologically compete with them. Those Portuguese sailing ships and Spanish galleons arriving in Nagasaki 450 years ago are the only reason whites are with "everybody else".

Ask Korea or China or Indonesia or any other asian non-Japanese race if you don't believe me. The Japanese would consider the Red Indians as far beneath them as the Red Indians consider dogs, and with much the same ultimate fate: vicious and violent attacks that were not aimed at simply conquering territory but indeed obliterating the backwards non-Japanese people that were living there. Anybody below about 700 on that scale would be not worth keeping around. And since the Red Indians would still be a primitive stone aged people in 1750 without contact with the outside world, those same Japanese armies showing up in ever-increasing number wouldn't rest until they hunted down and removed every single shred of non-Japanese.

So whenever some crazed activist wants to rail about Columbus, remind them of the alternative: an entire continent being wiped out as efficiently as the Beothuk had been. South America might have been a different story, and the entire east coast might have ended up being a race as news of Japan's find reached Europe, but any Red Indians in Alberta owe their very existence today to Christopher Columbus and his discovery of...well...almost America...