Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Inquirer's Take On Columbus: All Tabloid And No Truth

By Robert Petrone
for BigTrial.net

In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche proclaimed, "God is dead [a]nd we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?" 

Today, I proclaim that those same murderers have now killed journalism, from the inside. The polemicists of The Philadelphia Inquirer have murdered truth and facts and rely solely on ad hominem attacks and hit pieces to make a point.

 But character assassination -- of me, of our historical icons, of defenders of civil liberties like Councilman Mark Squilla or the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations -- will not "break our bones."  In fact, their words will never hurt us, because we have the facts and primary historical sources to summarily disprove their unsubstantiated, citation-less lies.

Compare recent, misinformation-laden, citationless, tabloid polemics such as The Inquirer's "The Columbus Day holiday is based on a lie. Yet, some people don’t want to let it go" and the one subtitled "Some historians believe Columbus was kind to Native populations he encountered. But some historians would be wrong, and every actual civil rights activist is rolling in their graves" with my citation-filled 1492 Project series of articles at Broad + Liberty about the true history of Christopher Columbus, titled: "Christopher Columbus Is the Greatest Hero of the Fifteenth & Sixteenth Centuries."

"Part I: Introduction"
"Part II: The Man"
"Part III: The Scientific Hypothesis"
"Part IV: The Discovery"

"Part V: The Second Voyage"
"Part VI: The Arch-Nemesis Bobadilla"
"Part VII: The First Civil Rights Legislation of the Americas"
"Part VIII: The Final Voyage to Freedom"

You'll notice a stark difference between my scholarly articles and the polemic pieces published by The Inquirer: mine state facts supported by citations to the primary historical sources; theirs cite nothing to support their lies.

This, indeed, is why outlets like Bigtrial.net and Broad + Liberty exist. The Inquirer's historic fall from grace from a news outlet to a pathetic, supermarket tabloid has left that once noble publication with a dwindling readership, the remainder of which no longer trusts it anyway, but rather simply reads it for the amusing invective and to see what nonsense the cultural majoritarians are spewing today. 

How does the desperate editorial staff keep this dying institution alive? By pushing hate, of course, because nothing gets mouse-clicks like anger-inducing headlines. Another tack might be to vie for foreign monies, which can be obtained by pushing the currently fashionable anti-Western narratives of global interests that see the United States and Western culture as the last obstacle to their megalomaniacal economic domination.

The Inquirer's many lies about Christopher Columbus, the civil rights lawsuit of the city's Italian American residents and those who support it call to mind the yellow journalism of the 20th Century, which had a terribly corrupt motive: to unduly influence people in power, such as the judge that will be presiding over the federal civil rights lawsuit brought collectively by the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations, the 1492 Society, and Councilman Squilla. 

 Little do such yellow-bellied journalists know how fair and above such petty attacks Judge Darnell Jones is, the way the members of the legal community know it. Nor do they appreciate how he saw first hand the city's handling of the last hearing regarding the now-razed statue of Philadelphia's first and only Italian-American mayor; the court was quite displeased with how the city failed to fulfill its promises and already has a deep sense of what is occurring.

The parties bringing this civil rights lawsuit battle against tyrants clothing themselves in the sheep's wool of virtue (and journalism), who proclaim to know it all (though lack any knowledge of the primary historical sources) and want total control of how their readership thinks. 

 But Americans are not ignorant of the atrocities of the Twentieth Century, and after having seen such atrocities propagating outward from this precise starting point in Europe, Russia, China, Viet Nam, and Cambodia, Americans know all too well where infiltration of the fictional media, then the news media, and now social media, will lead if those of us who are familiar with the primary historical sources fail to speak truth to power. 

Ken Borelli, former President for the Italian-American Heritage Foundation, Inc., who dealt with the replacement of the Christopher Columbus statue in San Jose, California, with a statue of a serpent god to whom human sacrifices were made, aptly stated:

"I have undergone several of these battles, and believe me[,] facts have little to do with them. These are really [won with] organizing techniques by [advocate] groups [with] a large turn out and votes. It's good to have an educated response, but the reality is [politicians] respond to community org[anizations]." 

 Mindful of Mr. Borelli's sage counsel, I present the educated response to the very uneducated opinions published by the polemicists of The Inquirer, addressing just a few of the lies in each op-ed hit-piece:

The Armstrong Op Ed Hit-Piece:

Lie #1: "The Columbus Day holiday is based on a lie." -- Notice how the polemicist (I won't call her a "journalist" for purposes of discussing this article, since the very first word of the article concedes that it is merely her "opinion") doesn't mention what the "lie" is. 

This is Edgar Allen Poe's famous literary trick from his short story "The Pit and the Pendulum," a fiction piece just like this op ed article. Poe never tells the reader what horror lies in the pit, but leaves that to the reader's fevered imagination. The Armstrong article does the same, leaving the gaping pit that is the alleged "lie" to be filled in with the worst lie the reader can imagine, simultaneously permitting the polemicist plausible deniability from claims that she got her facts wrong -- which she did.

Lie #2: "[T]he lawsuit filed on behalf of Italian Americans over [the] decision to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day ... lumps in complaints about the removal of the statue of [the first and only Italian American mayor of Philadelphia] and [the] zip code [of the largest Italian American community] not being included in the COVID-19 priority list" to demonstrate "prejudice against Italian Americans" (emphasis added). 

Perhaps this lie about "lumping in" random irrelevancies can be chalked up to the polemicist not being an attorney, and therefore failing to understand the notion of establishing a "course of conduct." But since such a concept lends itself to the patently obvious, even for the most obtuse layperson, any thinking person would be lying to suggest such a thing.

Lie #3: "[W]e blindly celebrated the so-called discovery of a continent that already had inhabitants living there for more than 20,000 years." To the extent this is what the polemicist meant by "lie," perhaps her error can be chalked up to not being an historian, but it seems more like purposeful semantic gamesmanship. 

We celebrated "discovery" in the sense that Christopher Columbus brought to light to the rest of the world the existence of the Americas (unlike the Vikings and Romans who left behind evidence of their arrivals). 

If The Inquirer's polemicist had discovered in her back yard the previous property owner's buried time capsule, her discovery would be no less of a discovery merely because the previous property owner had already put it there. But her semantic legerdemain is not the lie; the lie is that Columbus Day only celebrates that discovery. 

In fact, it celebrates the arrival to the New World of the great tripartite legacy of the West: (1) Judeo-Christian ethics and morals, (2) Greco-Roman democracy and law, and (3) the notion that all people are equal in the eyes of their creator. 

This is precisely why Columbus detractors hate the holiday -- because it stands for all the things they despise. And finally, Columbus Day celebrates the end of the medieval era and the beginning of more than five hundred years of cultural, economic, and political relations between the Old World and the New, commencing a perpetual exchange of science, technology, law, commerce, art, music, literature, and people, benefiting and enriching the globe from pole to pole.

Besides all these lies, the Armstrong article is also chock full of hate, such as where the polemicist states, "Columbus Day is no longer an official city holiday. The sooner people accept that, the better." 

In other words, "Shut up about about the bigotry and damnatio memoriae against your heritage, you [insert any number of Italophobic epithets here] and sit down and eat your pizza." She also notes that "Philadelphians are a diverse bunch and people have to coexist." 

Yet, The Inquirer seemingly cares only about diversity of skin color or ethnicity -- though hypocritically it has never had an Italian American editor -- and will do anything it can to suppress diversity of ideas.

So, the polemicist decries the holiday for "aiding and abetting a lie," but methinks the lady doth protest too much -- and doth project too much.

The Ubiñas Op Ed Hit-Piece:

Lie #1: "Some historians believe Columbus was kind to Native populations he encountered. But some historians would be wrong" -- Tellingly, the polemicist cites no primary historical sources to support her layperson's claim that historians are "wrong." Nor can she. Anyone who has studied the primary historical sources -- or at least read them -- can see that the polemicist herself is the one who is wrong.

As the familiar, false narrative has arisen in recent years of Christopher Columbus as a purported "villain," so have risen countless experts on Christopher Columbus to unanimously debunk this slander as the myth it is. 

To name a few, Professor Emerita Carol Delaney of Stanford University, dedicated decades of her life traveling the globe to study documents and artifacts regarding Columbus first-hand, and is the premier Columbus expert on the planet; she has flatly debunked the slander against Christopher Columbus in her book and in person.

Author Rafael Ortiz, who identifies as a "Puerto Rican of Taino descent," has written not merely one book (in both Spanish and English), nor merely two, nor merely three, but is currently writing his fourth book on Christopher Columbus and has collaborated with the National Columbus Education Foundation. 

And I was enlisted by City Council to research the primary historical sources, and in the process have investigated and debunked the slanderous claims recently levied against Columbus in Philadelphia (see my eight articles above). 

All three of us recently appeared among a panel of other Christopher Columbus experts hosted by Drexel University. The entire panel of experts unanimously agreed that the portrayal of Columbus as a racist, rapist, maimer, murderer, slave-owner, slave-trader, and genocidaire is nothing more than a collection of bald-faced lies. 

There. In my first response to the first lie of this polemicist's hit-piece, I have provided six more citations to her zero citations. And we're just getting started.

Lie #2: "[T]here are Big Lies to reinforce about Columbus being a civil rights activist!" rather than a "genocidal colonizer" -- It seems the polemicist cannot even decide what her position is: is the great deal of documented evidence of Columbus's civil rights activism simply "wrong" or a "big lie"? 

In fact, Columbus's civil rights activism on behalf of the Tainos and the Caribs is neither "wrong" nor a "big lie," but historical fact, patently established by the primary historical sources -- in the plural. That is to say that his civil rights activism is corroborated by multiple, primary, historical sources, including Books I and II of Historia de las Indias by Bartolomé de las Casas, The Life of the Admiral by Hernando Colón, and Dr. Diego Chanca's epistolary account of Columbus's Second Voyage -- in which Columbus established the Americas' first "underground railroad" rescuing Taino captives from their Carib marauders. 

I list these primary historical sources just to name a few, which is a few more sources than contained in the polemicist's op-ed piece. She makes a vague reference to "documented atrocities of looting, murder and slavery," but tellingly fails to identify those documents and, more tellingly, does not explicitly attribute them to Christopher Columbus.

Indeed she cannot. The primary historical sources such as Historia de las Indias Books I & II and The Life of the Admiral make clear that the atrocities of looting, murder and slavery were committed by Francisco de Bobadilla, who was Columbus's arch-nemesis and whom Columbus tirelessly and successfully fought to unseat for Bobadilla's atrocities. 

But you already knew that from reading Part VI of my "1492 Project" series: The Arch-Nemesis Bobadilla, which, unlike the polemicist's op-ed piece, cites to the primary historical sources. Also, Columbus' goal in his initial voyage was to gain enough wealth through trade for Spain to prevent the colonization of Europe, again, by the Arab Caliphate based in the Middle East that had occupied and enslaved Europe for 700 years; Spain had only recently regained control of itself from the Jihadist colonizers.

Lie #3: "[D]iscriminat[ion] against Italian Americans by not including South Philadelphia’s 19148 zip code in its list of prioritized neighborhoods for coronavirus vaccine distribution [is merely] white rage" -- Again, the polemicist's lack of historical education must be reiterated. 

Italians are people of color more so than any identifiable ethnic group; through the veins of Italians and Italian Americans runs the blood of North Africans, Middle Easterners, Lombards, Iberians, Central Europeans and all the indigenous tribes of the Italic peninsula and its islands, and all the foreign marauders who attacked them. 

If she knew that, rather than scoff at the idea of hate crimes against Italian Americans, she might attribute to their being persons of color the many instances of violence and destruction perpetrated against Italian Americans recently. 

Though the polemicist's periodical did not publish them, the victims did, thanks to social media. To up the citation ratio (the polemicist still scores a zero in that arena), I refer the reader to the following picture, worth a thousand words of citations. Names have been redacted to protect the victims, but all the final vowels of the surnames have been left in:

Those shown here are but a small fraction of the total, too sizable to reproduce in this article.

The rest of this polemicist's op-ed piece then embarks on a James-Joyce-esque stream of consciousness tortuously trying to tie in all manner of national politics such as "Capitol insurrectionists" and "Trump's ... stolen election" that has nothing to do with the federal civil rights law suit brought by the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations, the 1492 Society and Councilman Squilla. Such makeweight rantings only highlight the paucity of facts in either of The Inquirer's op-ed hit-pieces.

The polemicist of the latter op-ed hit-piece got one thing right, however: "every actual civil rights activist is rolling in their graves." The grammatical illiteracy of that statement aside, the point holds up; the muck The Inquirer is slinging against Christopher Columbus does disrespect his well-documented and above-cited legacy of civil rights activism, and that of all civil rights activists who have followed suit, including Harriet Tubman; Martin Luther King, Jr.; George Bochetto, Esquire; and Councilman Mark Squilla. 

But that's quite the point of a polemicist: to advocate hate, show disrespect and sow dissent. 

Bravissimo, Inquirer, mission accomplished.

Another voice: A podcast by Christine Flowers on Spotify, "How Italians Are Saving Philadelphia."


  1. Great submission here, Counselor. To say that I absolutely loathe and abhor the Philadelphia Inquirer would be an extreme understatement. Thank you for this piece. Also, after a series of clicks on this machine(i am computer illiterate) found myself on a YouTube thing called 'The Advocates' watching a man named Dan and listening to your fascinating history lesson on the great Christopher Columbus. I knew nothing of the man other than what the Nuns taught us back in the early '60's. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and probably tireless research. I wish you all the best, along with Ralph Cipriano, Mark Squilla and especially attorney George Bochetto. Thank you.

  2. I would also like to applaud the Great Effort that Attorney Petrone has expended in bringing forth this Noteworthy Scholarly Work.

    The Oddsmakers at 9th/Catharine might not be able to digest Your Arguments, but they would say you are a Heavy Favorite to be put out to Pasture by Quaker Cracker Larry for Your broad attack against his Ilk.

    Based on the Woke Mindset and Cancel Culture, when will They bring down William Penn from His Glorious Perch above City Hall.

    Is Janice Armstrong fettered from Attacking the Slave Trading History of William Penn??

    Jason Brando

    1. Good post, Jason Brando. Always dig your opinions.

  3. As a high school history teacher who spent the better part of the summer reading through the primary source record, I can tell you that Petrone's portrayal of Columbus as a saintly civil rights activist for the Indians is wrong, and uses some of the similar dishonest manipulations and misrepresentation of historical sources as does Howard Zinn in his attempt to portray Columbus as a mass-murdering maniac.

    Columbus was neither. He was a product of his time who was on a mission to seek profit and pay back his investors for their funding of his voyages. In this pursuit, he did some things that were par for the course at the time, but would offend modern sensibilities (which is why we need to look at history through the time period, not through today's eyes), including the taking of slaves, ruling with an iron fist, and enacting policies against the Indians that Las Casas himself described as "unjust." (Contrary to what Petrone would have you believe, Las Casas levies his fair share of criticism towards Columbus for his treatment of the Indians. Petrone is correct on the fact that those who followed Columbus were worse in that regard.)

    If you're really curious as to what the primary source record actually says, along with a refutation of both Petrone's arguments and Zinn's arguments, you can read my article, "In defense of history, not Columbus."



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