Not too many years ago, I witnessed a small band of angry protesters stalking down a Manhattan street chanting, "Columbus! Did Not! Discover! America!" I remember how quickly Columbus became a symbol of all that was wrong with the West: racism, imperialism, colonialism — and don't forget smallpox and cholera.
But now the old sea dog can come in from the cold, though an unlikelier candidate for a multicultural poster child could hardly be found. In a press release issued late last month titled "Islamic Influence Runs Deep in American Culture," Phyllis McIntosh of the State Department's Washington File burbles that "Islamic influences may date back to the very beginning of American history. It is likely that Christopher Columbus, who discovered America in 1492, charted his way across the Atlantic Ocean with the help of an Arab navigator."
Rewrite the history books, indoctrinate the children, and you can own the future. The bit about the Arab navigator is not just being put out by State, but will also be taught in Massachusetts public schools this year.
Some lucky Massachusetts teachers were recently treated to a week-long workshop called "The Genesis and Genius of Islam." It featured professors from Boston College, College of the Holy Cross, Harvard, and Bridgewater State College, including Ibrahim Kalin, assistant professor of religious studies at Holy Cross.
According to a local Massachusetts paper, Kalin said that "Islamic sailors were the best seamen of the day," and "noted that even Christopher Columbus had several Muslim sailors on his voyage that wound up in the New World."
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This article is from September 15, 2004