Voices in the Controversy

The greatest event since the creation of the world, excluding the Incarnation and death of Him who created it.”

—Francisco Lopez de Gomara (1552)

“What some historians have termed a ‘discovery,’ in reality was an invasion and colonization with legalized occupation, genocide, economic exploitation, and a deep level of institutional racism and moral decadence.”

—National Council of Churches

“[This is] the 500th anniversary of one of the great achievements of human endeavor.”

—George Bush

“[Based] on statistical analyses of Indian deaths, [the Spanish conquest was] the greatest demographic catastrophe in recorded history.”

—Peter Winn

“The discovery of America, and that of a passage to the East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope, are the two greatest and most important events recorded in the history of mankind.”

—Adam Smith (late 1700s)

“Columbus makes Hitler look like a juvenile delinquent!”

—Native American demonstrator

“After 500 years the Columbian legacy has created a civilization that we ought not, in all humble piety and cultural relativism, declare to be no better or worse than that of the Incas. It turned out better. And mankind is the better for it. Infinitely better. Reason enough to honor Columbus and bless 1492.”

—Charles Krauthammer

“If Columbus could discover a country that was already occupied, I can go into the parking lot and discover your car—with you in it.”

—Comedian Dick Gregory

“The systematic violence, both physical and spiritual, done first to indigenous people and then to black Africans was, indeed, the original sin of the American nations. In other words, the United States of America was conceived in iniquity.”

—Jim Wallis

“Should we, then, celebrate Columbus? Certainly. [His voyages’ effects?] Of course not, but then neither did many of his contemporaries. . . . To reject Columbus is in effect to reject the modern world.”

—James Muldoon

By the Editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #35 in 1992]

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