Andrews: Columbus' discovery of New World "good for the inhabitants" and for "the people from Africa who were brought here against their will"
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Discussing opposition to Columbus Day parades, John Andrews asserted on his October 7 KNUS 710 AM Backbone Radio broadcast that the explorer's discovery "was good for the inhabitants of the New World." While acknowledging later in the program that "bloodshed" and "atrocities" were committed during the ensuing conquests, Andrews also claimed that the discovery "was good too for the people from Africa who were brought here against their will." He further asserted that "people of African ancestry" had claimed to have "ended up benefiting immensely as a result" of their ancestors' slavery, concluding, "There is no one that didn't benefit" from the discovery of the New World.
Andrews and co-host Joshua Sharf introduced the topic by playing a segment about Christopher Columbus from the 1961 comedy album Stan Freberg Presents The United States of America. Referring to a leader of the American Indian Movement who was arrested during a protest of Denver's October 6 Columbus Day Parade, Sharf explained that "what we're doing is having a little fun at the expense of the Glenn Morrisses of the world, who can't seem to get over the fact that it was actually a good thing that somebody discovered the New World." Andrews agreed with Sharf, adding, "Darn right. It was good for the inhabitants of the New World. It was good for the inhabitants of the whole world."
From the October 7 broadcast of KNUS 710 AM's Backbone Radio:
SHARF: There's a certain joy to his humor. If you get a chance, the whole album -- I'm not gonna sit here and plug his work -- but the whole album is called Stan Freberg Presents The United States of America, and it's his a little bit off-kilter view of how these things happened. But it's very funny. And this is the, I -- you know, obviously what we're doing is having a little fun at the expense of the Glenn Morrisses of the world, who can't seem to get over the fact that it was actually a good thing that somebody discovered the New World.
ANDREWS: It was a very good thing. Darn right. It was good for the inhabitants of the New World. It was good for the inhabitants of the whole world.
SHARF: Well, you know, the other thing, too. People --
ANDREWS: It was good too for the people from Africa who were brought here against their will, but as it has been eloquently pointed out by people of African ancestry, who ended up benefiting immensely as a result. There is no one that didn't benefit.
SHARF: If you think about it from the European point of view -- 39 years earlier, that's all it was. Thirty-nine years earlier -- less than two generations earlier -- Constantinople falls. Things look really bad on the Eastern front. The world is very small and getting smaller.
ANDREWS: Let's define that. Constantinople falls from whom to whom?
SHARF: From the Byzantine, with the Christians controlling it --
ANDREWS: Christian then loses it to Islam.
SHARF: Right. And this is a fortress that had lasted for a thousand years.
ANDREWS: We've been fighting Islam that long?
SHARF: On and off.
ANDREWS: I ask as a product of public schools.
SHARF: On and off.
KRISTA KAFER (co-host): When you think about it. I mean --
ANDREWS: And I'm stepping on your thought. Thirty-nine years earlier Constantinople has fallen to the Turk.
SHARF: And so you're only seeing, you know, on the Western side in Spain, this ability to push them back. And then, you know, things are kind of cramped. I mean, it's not -- the world is getting smaller, there's no place really to go. And then things don't necessarily look that good. And then all of a sudden out of nowhere, completely unexpected --
KAFER: Two new continents.
SHARF: -- there's a whole new, two whole new continents to go and do something with. And it's truly, truly opens up the visions and the vista of the Europeans at that point. Just something that frees up the mind, I think.
KAFER: I think you could -- I mean, you could definitely say there's, you know, good and bad. I mean, I wouldn't be sitting in this chair if Columbus hadn't have come. But I also, you know, there were people here, people who suffered either by imported diseases, war, and just -- a lot of lives were lost. And so I understand the concerns of those who want to stop the parade. But stopping the parade, silencing free speech, silencing free assembly is not -- you know, pouring fake blood and, you know, torn-up baby dolls as they did is not the way to have the kind of dialogue we need to have on history. It's absurd and silly and really an attempt to silence people rather than engage in a debate and bring to the table that, yes, there were very good things and there were also some very horrible things that happened. And we don't have that kind of rich dialogue that people are pouring blood on the sidewalk.
ANDREWS: Krista, it's interesting. When you said stop the parade, for a moment I thought you were speaking figuratively. You were talking about the controversy over Denver holding a Columbus Day parade every year. I believe that Columbus Day was established here and we're one of the oldest parades held anywhere in the United States. But in the larger sense there are some who want to stop the parade of human history, stop the dynamism of the human race doing exactly what you described, Joshua. And that is, when battles are lost on one side, you look for new horizons on another side. And is there bloodshed, is there is conquest? Are there, in the short-term, winners and losers? And Krista, as you acknowledge, are there perhaps injustices or even atrocities committed? Yes, they are. They are perpetrated, when you average it out, by people of all racial stock, people of all cultural and even religious heritage. But what has been marvelous about Western civilization and its Judeo-Christian heritage is the self-critical element of a culture and civilization willing to say, "Wait a minute. We have higher ideals that we're not living up to here." And the accommodation of that self-criticism -- and this gets to the free speech that you're standing up for, Krista Kafer -- the accommodation of self-criticism to say, "We're going to actually institutionalize processes by which we try to make our societies live up to their highest proclaimed and professed ideals." The hypocrisy will always be with us, the shortcomings will always be with us; but this is how slavery was abolished and how full civil rights have been extended to people of every background in this country. And stopping the parade of human history, stopping the dynamism of the human race, is just impossible. Ain't gonna happen.