For the last couple years the conversations around Columbus Day and the many statues that represent the lost Captain across America have become ripe for controversy.
Many cities across the country have changed their Columbus Day celebrations to Indigenous day celebrations. One of the cities that I felt should have made that change early on, was Syracuse NY. We have a considerable Native American population and much of our founding history of this area is within the tribes that inhabited it. Just outside of the city limits is the Onondaga Nation.
Syracuse historically was a progressive city. The area was often the route the underground railroad to freedom i.e. Canada took. Many of the houses that are from the Civil War era have small cubby holes that hid escaped enslaved people.
So for many, like myself, the idea that we had a large statue in our cities downtown to a man that enslaved the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, had his men murder, rape, and torture them seemed odd to say the least.
But somehow the symbol of Christopher Columbus, like the Confederate flag over the years has become detached from its own history and become a point of pride for a community. Columbus became a point of pride for many in the Italian community – many of which rallied in downtown Syracuse this week in an effort to save their statue.
While a handful of the county and district level politicians spoke in generalities about coming together as a community and finding a new future for Columbus Circle… Some of the Italian American communities leaders spoke of saving “Judeo-Christian values,” spread fear about black lives matter protests tearing the statue down and worse. The crowd was, by average over the age of 60. And the rhetoric spoke into the microphone was much older.
The event ended with a prayer and a sermon from Msgr. Ronald Bill. He spoke passionately about how We needed to save Western civilization from… He was less than clear about that.
Msgr. Ronald Bill: The Judeo-Christian culture was inspired by the truth that human beings are created with reason capable of exploring God’s world. This truth made possible the birth of science this truth motivated the prosperity that lifted billions of people from poverty and gave billions spiritual purpose. The Judeo-Christian value system inspired the development of our [inaudible] and ended human sacrifice. We should not forget that the nations who were driven for the moral purpose of Judeo-Christian values defeated Hitler’s national socialism and Lenin’s Soviet Socialist republic. The two evil empires [applause from crowd] that were responsible for the slaughter of tens of millions of people. When Christopher Columbus in the 15th century opened up the waterways to the Caribbean, to the Pacific Ocean he brought all of us things of the Judeo-Christian meaning system to the people that inhabited the Americas and those who followed them.
Make no mistake about it those who take a dim view of Columbus based on faulty research and a bling eye to authentic history unwittingly, unwittingly join those who have a different agenda. Columbus is a symbol of the Judeo Christian meaning system and Western Civilization. The agenda of those in the streets of our cities is to tear down the Judeo-Christian meaning system and Western Civilization. They wish to uproot the cross that the explorers anchored in San Salvador in 1492. Witness the desecration of statues of Columbus, Father Junipero Serra, St. Louis, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Judeo Christian values are under attack. Columbus is a distraction. Columbus and the explorers after him had many different motives for crossing the oceans and the waterways of the world,. The Franciscan missionaries on fire with the holy spirit had only one motive the salvation of souls. In spite of the greed, lust, and cruelty of the Conquistadoras. The faith was being taught the sacredness and dignity of the human person was instilled into the hearts and minds of a people who heard the gospel for the first time. We who live in the present age, if the sword of the Conquistaras came without the cross of the missionaries, might there have been even more carnage and more slavery.