By Stephen Ryan
Recently, Notre Dame announced plans to cover up murals depicting Christopher Columbus in yet another cowardly retreat from the marauding “politically correct” vigilantes not to mention anti-Catholic bigots.
University President Rev. John Jenkins defended his action saying: “for Native Americans, Columbus’s arrival in America “was nothing short of a catastrophe.”
The University President is correct to point out that the horrors perpetrated against Native Americans at the hands of European settlers were catastrophic. In fact Jenkins did not go far enough. A strong case can be (and has been) made that Native Americans were victims of genocide.
The trouble with Rev. Jenkins lament is that he is casting the blame on the wrong perpetrators and if we look to two very important virgins, one Protestant the other Catholic, we can begin to understand the logic of this.
Our first virgin is the Protestant virgin, Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen of England. Protestants came to America and founded Jamestown in the “Colony of Virginia” in 1607. Jamestown, as most know, was the first English settlement in the New World. The colony of Virginia was named after the virgin, Queen Elizabeth I. The Queen’s place in history is best known for ushering the Protestant faith into England and giving birth to the Church of England.
The founding fathers of the United States of America were predominantly of English descent and were almost all Protestants. It’s not clear to this author how many Spanish or Italian Catholics signed the Declaration of Independence.
Over time the Protestant leaders of America would build up an economy dependent on the exploitation of slave labor. That would be followed by the “Indian Relocation Act of 1831” – a law pursued aggressively by the man we find on the twenty dollar bill, Andrew Jackson . The law would lead to the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, forced removal of tens of thousands of people from their homes, and the abominable stain on America history known as the “Trail of Tears”.
By the time America would complete the Protestant racist ideal known as the “Manifest Destiny”, north of the Mexican border, most of the America was white. Ethnic cleansing would wipe out almost all Native Americans on the east coast and those who survived in the west were rounded up and detained and put on “Indian reservations”.
The other virgin – the Catholic Virgin – arrived in the New World in 1492 with Christopher Columbus. Columbus sailed from Spain on the ship, “Santa Maria” named after the Virgin Mary. Christopher Columbus and his crew were
After Columbus’s “discovery” of the new world the country of Mexico emerged. Much of the indigenous population converted to Catholicism and importantly racially mixed with Spanish colonists. Then in 1829 Catholic Mexico passed a law abolishing slavery which led to one of the most pivotal events in American history – an event with enormous racial overtones – the battle for the Alamo. At the time this law was passed Texas was still a “territory”of Mexico.
James W. Russell, University Professor of Sociology at Eastern Connecticut State University writes: “But if Northeasterners can be excused for embracing a somewhat fuzzy notion of abstract liberty, the symbolism of the Alamo has always been built upon historical myth. As the defenders of the Alamo were about to sacrifice their lives, other Texans were making clear the goals of the sacrifice at a constitutional convention for the new republic they hoped to create. In Section 9 of the General Provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Texas, it is stated how the new republic would resolve their greatest problem under Mexican rule: “All persons of color who were slaves for life previous to their emigration to Texas, and who are now held in bondage, shall remain in the like state of servitude … Congress shall pass no laws to prohibit emigrants from bringing their slaves into the republic with them, and holding them by the same tenure by which such slaves were held in the United States; nor shall congress have power to emancipate slaves. The defenders of the Alamo, as brave as they may have been, were martyrs to the cause of the freedom of slaveholders.”
So if Protestant founders of the United States were responsible for The Indian Relocation Act of 1831, slavery, the Trail of Tears, and and the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans while Catholic Mexico abolished slavery and mixed racially with the indigenous population, why does Rev. Jenkins feel the need to cover up artistic renderings of Catholic Christopher Columbus with bed sheets while he keeps portraits of the man responsible for unspeakable horrors against Native Americans in his pant’s pocket.
Sadly, the answer is Notre Dame succumbed to mob rule once again motivated by anti-Catholic bigotry.