Celebrate Columbus Day, PC style!
(With multiculturalism, diversity, and feminism for all!)

I would have forgotten it was Columbus Day but for the fact that Glenn Reynolds linked this post from Jules Crittenden who exults in the politically incorrect glories of going to work:

Columbus Day may be the most unPC holiday of the year. That's why I intend to celebrate it doing the most unPC thing I can think of. Working for a living.

Columbus Day celebrates the arrival of Europeans in the New World, which critics note marked the onset of a lot of death, power shifts, slavery and domination of the continent by new ethnic groups. Essentially, a continuation of history as usual as far as the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia were concerned, all of which had practiced those things repeatedly. Only in the Americas, an acceleration of history, something different.

From this complex, sometimes disturbing history of boldness, vision, determination, misery, blood and hope in the cauldron of New World, emerged the greatest nation history has seen, founded on noble ideas, some of which we are still finetuning. An example to the rest of the world, which is still having trouble with a lot of the basics. Happy Columbus Day.

I'm in 100% agreement on everything he said, except that I think a PC case can be made for Columbus Day, and I'll try to make it. While I'm at it, maybe I also have a slight issue with the "working for a living" part. Does this mean working for a "living wage"? I don't know whether I am doing that or not. It's like really complicated, because not only am I self employed, but I'm a lazy, penny-pinching cheapskate. I don't know the difference between working and living, as my life often seems to be a live-work situation. But I rationalize this by repeating the mantra from Mark Twain that a man's work is that which is not work at all.

And as I was trying hard not to think about not working for a non-living, I read about a book in the Instamail which tells employers this:

employers are advised to spend less time "obsessing over their employees' blogs."
Fortunately, I'm self-employed. But that means I employ myself, does it not?


Now that I think about it, the above still applies. I'd be well advised to advised to spend less time "obsessing over [my] employee[']s blog[]."

Tell you what. Since it's Columbus day and I can't get especially worked up about living, or livened up for working, how about if I just obsess over Columbus and try my hands at knitting together a post-post-modernist narrative post?

He's the guy who helped preserve undeveloped open space by discovering it, right? We wouldn't be preserving it by fighting sprawl if if he hadn't discovered it, would we? And, the undeveloped open space over here is largely responsible for making "us" (meaning the non-native invaders of indigenous peoples) come over here, and enslave literally everyone, not only in the form of chattel slavery, but through indentured servitude, capitalist wage slavery, and hundreds of years of exploitation. Even though the indigenous peoples had slavery and exploitation too, the endless struggle to end these things would not have been possible had Columbus not set these precursor events in motion. Nor would there be any environmental movement had we not laid waste to the land and put carbon footprints all over everything in the first place!

Besides, somebody has to be the original ugly American, so why not Columbus? Sure, he might not have technically been an American in the literal historical sense, but I think he might as well be one in the narrative sense. I mean, he's at least as much American as Ward Churchill is Indian, isn't he? Sure, he screwed up and thought he was in India and everything, but didn't Churchill screw up and think he was Indian too?

Can't we just get along and celebrate at least the dishonesty and hypocrisy of our common diversities on Columbus Day?

Here's the Columbus Monument in Barcelona.


Fortunately, it's located way up high, where the angry leftist nativistas in Spain can't do to it what their leftist counterparts did to the Columbus statue in Caracas, Venezuela.


While those demonstrators might be loathe to admit it, the fact is that Columbus was sent by a woman. Not just any old woman, but Queen Isabella of Spain -- a woman who adopted "novel feminist ideas." And there's a fascinating book -- Isabel Rules -- which "applies a materialist feminist perspective to a wide array of texts of the second half of the fifteenth century in order to uncover and study the masculine psychosexual anxiety created by Isabel's anomalous power."

Frankly, when I contemplated her statue in Barcelona, it was an undeniable fact that I felt plenty of masculine psychosexual anxiety, and I did the best I could to capture Isabel's anomalous power with the limited power of my Nikon Coolpix:


In true feminist fashion, Isabella not only stood up to her hegemonic husband, but by any standard, was a warrior mom:

Despite Ferdinand's attempts to rule both their kingdoms, Isabella held firm and kept her position as ruler.

[13] Both loved the excitement of war, so the occupation of Granada by the Moors was a ready-made challenge. Although Isabella was described as being very feminine, she loved the look and feel of armor as much as fine dresses. In the field, Isabella scorned any suggestion of special consideration, and in the 10 years the two waged war against the Moors, Isabella managed to give birth to ten children. Five died in infancy. Small wonder. She was adamant about family and religion, so the children were dragged along to the battles, often in tatters. She wanted to supervise their training.

Kinda puts the soccer moms to shame, no? And she not only made Columbus beg for funding, she kicked plenty of ass:
[14] Christopher Columbus followed her for years before he could get her ear to plead for his enterprises. As Isabella the Catholic, she considered his plan as a great opportunity to proselytize other lands that he might find. Isabella, who had become known as the Catholic Queen, was as devout on the field as off. Her troops had to attend services and were not allowed to drink, swear, or gamble. Her religious fervor, unfortunately, led eventually to the Spanish Inquisition and its horrors.
If Isabella was not a woman who "did it all," then I submit that the phrase has become so hackneyed as to be without meaning.

So as we celebrate Columbus Day, I think it's only fair to celebrate him from a feminist perspective.

And a multiculturalist perspective!


Can anyone look at these statues and deny that they capture the supreme gratitude of the indigenous peoples at the time?


Clearly the formerly oppressed Indians realized that their liberation was made possible only because of one of the West's pioneering feminists. Can carved stone lie?

The statues speak for themselves, and I think no subtext is needed!

Citizens of the United States should also remember that Isabella was the first named woman to make it onto a U.S. coin, in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the Columbus voyage.


What many feminists don't know is that while the Isabella quarter predated the Susan B. Anthony dollar, the latter feminist helped promote the project, as well as what has to be considered a feminist theme:

Bertha Honoré Palmer then turned her attention to Congress' Appropriations Committee. Following the lead of the souvenir Columbian Exposition commemorative half-dollar, to be produced to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America, Mrs. Potter lobbied and procured funding in the form of 40,000 commemorative quarters. In keeping with the female theme, she insisted on a female effigy on the coin, and what could be more fitting then Columbus' benefactor, Queen Isabella of Spain.

In March 1893, the Mint Director Edward O. Leech informed the 'Board of Lady Managers,' that they needed to forward the likeness of Queen Isabella to be used on the commemorative quarter. In this way, it would save both time and money in production. Having some idea of the politics within government, it has been reported that Susan B. Anthony advised Mrs. Palmer to ignore the Mint Director's request and to pursue the commemorative quarter through normal channels. Bertha Palmer wanted to keep with an all female input into the design, and selected a New York artist, and student of the famed sculptor, Augustus St.Gaudens, by the name of Caroline Peddle to create the design. This action greatly offended the Chief Engraver, Charles Barber, and all chances for approval of Peddle's design was quashed. Charles Barber chose artist Kenyon Cox, who had painted several murals and illustrations at the exposition, to prepare sketches from which Barber personally created models and dies for the new quarter.

Charles Barber's design of the Isabella Quarter features the crowned bust of the young Queen on the obverse. The legend encircling the bust reads UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and the date 1893 is found to the right of the Queen's image. The design on the reverse features what was thought to be the major industry of women, at that time. It depicts a kneeling woman, holding a distaff, which was used for spinning wool or flax, in her left hand, and a spindle in her right. Surrounding the image, on the coin's border, the inscription reads BOARD OF LADY MANAGERS and COLUMBIAN QUAR. DOL.

Anyone who thinks such "women's work" is passé should remember that knitting is now very much a feminist issue. (Along with the Isabella Quarter, the term "feminism" was coined in the same period.)

Remember, it was Columbus who made possible the multiculturalism, diversity, feminism, and knitting that we enjoy today!

So celebrate!

I say this as a diversitist! And as a certified (or would that be certifiable?) "total feminist"!

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link and a warm welcome to all!

As Glenn says, Columbus is a feminist hero!

(But we should also keep in mind that that Isabella is a feminist heroine.)

posted by Eric on 10.08.07 at 05:41 PM


Thanks. I think today is one of those days where we should be greatful for our American heroes, and among these are both Columbus and Queen Isabella!

OregonGuy   ·  October 8, 2007 11:44 PM

Highly amused by the picture from Venezuela. A lot of people with strong European features, and not a whole lot of people there with features you'd associate with indigeneous tribes.

If these gringo-looking leftists are so appalled by the European invasion of the Americas, there's really nothing holding them back from making amends and emigrating back to Spain. (Chavez still lets people emigrate, right?)

Percy Dovetonsils   ·  October 9, 2007 9:34 AM

"Sure, he screwed up and thought he was in India and everything, but didn't Churchill screw up and think he was Indian too?"

Gee, thanks, Eric -- my keyboard (a product of China) is now drenched in inorganic, non-artisanal, non-fair-trade, non-shade-grown, evil-transnational-corporation-produced, probably-chock-full-of-pesticides, sure-tastes-like-they-put-a-whole-lot-of-robusta-in-it coffee! :-)

Mary in LA   ·  October 10, 2007 4:04 PM

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dafodilkemmy   ·  October 28, 2007 5:17 AM

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