The Ferndale Fortitude (Vol. 2 No. 6, October 10, 2022)
Was Christopher Columbus a bad guy? How about Ferndale’s forefathers? Were they bad guys? If we say yes to the one, we’re saying yes to the others. In November 2019 the Times-Standard reported that “the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will no longer recognize Columbus Day but instead observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day…” The reporter said, “Columbus, the Italian explorer… has been celebrated far less in recent years as the history of his genocidal massacre of indigenous peoples has come to light.” (article link)
This is the revisionist history sweeping the country. It’s the same lie used to twist the arm of communities until they cry uncle and tear down statues and rename streets.
Was Columbus a bad guy? Is he guilty of genocide? No. The fabricated claim flies in the face of the Christian’s own words and actions as confirmed by his contemporaries. Commenting on the reason for his first voyage, Columbus wrote that he wanted to bring Christ to people deceived by paganism, and that this was at the repeated request of Indian princes.
I had given [a report] to your Highnesses about the lands of India and about a prince who is called “Grand Khan,”… and his predecessors had sent to Rome to ask for men learned in our Holy Faith in order that they might instruct him in it . . . and thus so many peoples were lost, falling into idolatry and accepting false and harmful religions; and Your Highnesses, as Catholic Christians and Princes, lovers and promoters of the Holy Christian Faith . . . thought of sending me . . . to see how their conversion to our Holy Faith might be undertaken. (Read more on Columbus)
It wasn’t India’s people who were blessed by his efforts, but the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Did he massacre them? Quite the opposite. When he met them, he said, “I recognized that they were people who would be better freed [from error] and converted to our Holy Faith by love than by force.”
Sounds like a horrible human being, right?
Bishop Bartolome de Las Casas, a contemporary of Columbus who recorded the atrocities of other Europeans said, “[Columbus] was extremely zealous for the honor and glory of God; with deep longing he yearned for the evangelization of these peoples and for the planking and flourishing everywhere of people’s faith in Jesus Christ.”
Christopher Columbus was, as his name declares, a Christ-bearer. So why did our County Supervisors go along with those who call him a monster? Because the world hates Christ (John 15:18). Actors like Gov. Newsom, who have influenced the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, prefer celebrating “cultures and populations that existed long before European contact.” In Newsom’s words, “Instead of commemorating conquest today, we recognize resilience.” This is to say, instead of commemorating those motivated by Christ’s Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20), we want to restore paganism.
But how does this relate to Ferndale’s forefathers? Columbus is said to have “opened the door” for Christian European settlers. That is precisely who settled Ferndale, isn’t it? As Jan Young wrote years ago for a Chamber of Commerce publication, they played “a vital role in both the town’s growth and the development of its dairy industry: Danes, Irish, Swiss, Italian-Swiss, Italians, Germans, and Portuguese,” (Jan Young, Ferndale Today and Yesterday).
The demonization of Christopher Columbus is the demonization of Ferndale’s settlers. Ms. Young continues: “Because of its somewhat isolated position from the rest of the county, Ferndale developed an active social and cultural life of its own. Much of its social life centered around its churches,” (Jan Young, Ferndale Today and Yesterday).
No and no.
Since recognizing resiliency is the order of the day, one wonders how resilient Ferndale’s original culture is. Will it be able to withstand the conquest of the county and the state as they work to undo the very identity of our village? Will popular lies distort the truth of who founded our beloved town—Christians? Or do we have the faith-formed fortitude of our forefathers? I think we do. Perhaps you don’t. What are you going to do about it?
May I suggest you do what our forefathers did and follow the lead of Christopher Columbus? He said, “I am only a most unworthy sinner, but ever since I have cried out for grace and mercy from the Lord, they have covered me completely. I have found the most delightful comfort in making it my whole aim in life to enjoy his marvelous presence.”
Your servant in Christ,
Rev. Tyrel Bramwell
2 Corinthians 12:10