Columbus, Up Close

Monday, October 08, 2012

Kenneth C. Davis, author of the "Don't Know Much About" series, including Don't Know Much About the American Presidents, talks about the changing views of Christopher Columbus.


→More about WNYC’s Arun Venugopal's visit to the public art work "Discovering Columbus." 


Kenneth C. Davis

Comments [6]

Ed from Larchmont

The Knights of Columbus are the largest men's lay Catholic organization in the world. It was founded by an Irish priest, Fr. Michael MicGivney, to provide protection for women and their children after their husbands died in dangerous working conditions, or from natural causes. But at that time, 1882, the Catholic Irish immigration had already taken place, and the new wave of Catholic immigrants were from Italy.

There were mens organizations at the time which were Masonic, Fr. McGivney also wanted to give Catholic men an organization they could join without endangering their faith. And so he chose the name 'Knights of Columbus'.

The criticism of Columbus is rather extreme. He was a great man.

Oct. 08 2012 12:53 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Ave of Americas in the UWS?? No Brian, Midtown!

Oct. 08 2012 11:59 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Well, slavery was quite abundant and "healthy" within the "Indian" civizations that the European conquistidores (conquerors) found here. But there is no question that the European conquerors brought with them diseases that the natives people had no immunity against, and that really contributed more than anything else to the genocide and virtual demise. But European avariciousness and cruelty certainly set new standards in the "New World."
But it was a cruel planet all over, not just here.

But in fact, the "discovery" of the Americas is really what made Europe what it was to become for a while, the overlords of most of the planet. The resources of the Americas made the resources of Asia less important. The intermediary Muslim empires declined into abject poverty as the overland trade became less relevant. The Americas became the outlet for Europe's surplus population, as well as the agricultural backbone of Europe, not to mention a new source of money, i.e. gold and silver.

If not for the discovery of the Americas, Europe probably would have remained a relatively modest player in the world scene, and not the paramount overlord for the following nearly 500 years.

Oct. 08 2012 11:58 AM
Michael from Passaic County

As an Italian-American, I feel conflicted about his legacy, because on the one hand, I know the historical legacy of the exclusion of Italian-Americans, and the need for the acknowledgement of contributions by Italian-Americans.

On the other hand, there are the newer interpretations of Columbus's legacy. As your recent caller said, "It's a mess." It's hard to feel proud about Columbus given the newer historical scholarship.

Oct. 08 2012 11:57 AM
David from Long Island City

In Hawaii, where I grew up, they renamed Columbus Day to Discoverers Day. Columbus obviously didn't discover Hawaii, the Polynesians did.

Oct. 08 2012 11:54 AM
Kate from Washington Heights

Brian please ask him to explain the obtuse poem on the side of the sculpture. I went to the exhibit - really cool to see him up close.

Oct. 08 2012 11:50 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.