The Left Turns on Christopher Columbus, Repeating KKK 'Black Legend' Myths

This week, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and vandals in Baltimore, Md., targeted statues of Christopher Columbus. By doing so, they joined horrible company, however. Among historic foes of Columbus statues is the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), the National Christopher Columbus Association (NCCA) noted.

"Columbus has been a target of white supremacists since the 1920s, when a resurgent Ku Klux Klan attacked monuments and celebrations of Columbus from coast to coast," Patrick Korten, a member of NCCA's board of directors, said in a statement.

"They hated that he was Mediterranean not Anglo, that he sailed for Spain, not England, that he was popular in the immigrant community, and most of all, that he was Catholic," Korten added, noting that "Catholics, along with African Americans and Jews, were regular targets of the Klan."

The NCCA board member warned that "the disparagement of Columbus today has its roots in a centuries-old habit of painting Italian and Hispanic immigrants in this country as cruel, violent, sexually aggressive and untrustworthy. In the context of Spanish exploration, this is known as the 'Black Legend' — based on propaganda peddled about Spain dating from the 16th century, which continues to be the grist for racially tinged comments about Hispanics and Italians to this day."

Contrary to this hateful narrative, Korten argued that "modern biographers, including Stanford University professor emerita Carol Delaney, have shown that Columbus was a decent man who was improperly blamed for everything that went wrong after 1492."

In a 2014 interview, Delaney said, "The late 20th century brought a lot of critique about him from the perspective of the natives, and Columbus has become a symbol for everything that went wrong. But the more I read of his own writings and that of his contemporaries, my understanding of him totally changed."

The historian noted that Columbus' "relations with the natives tended to be benign. He liked the natives and found them to be very intelligent." Indeed, the discoverer "strictly told the crew not to do things like maraud, or rape, and instead to treat the native people with respect." Columbus' crew even rebelled over his restrictions to treat the natives well.