By Robert Spencer
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.” LIE LIE LIE

Unfortunately for State and the schoolchildren of Massachusetts, there is not a shred of historical evidence for this. While assertions of this kind can readily be found on Islamic websites, none of the preeminent historians of Columbus’s voyages — not Samuel Eliot Morison, Salvador de Madariaga, Paolo Emilio Taviani, or any other — has any record of this Muslim presence among the crew. And remember, Columbus was only sailing in the first place to find a way for European traders (who were Christians in those days) to avoid land routes to the Far East. Those land routes were controlled by Muslims, and passed through areas only recently conquered from Christians — most notably, the ancient holdings of the Byzantine empire, whose capital, Constantinople, had fallen to the Muslims in 1453. Columbus was commissioned by Ferdinand and Isabella, who had just defeated the last Muslims in Spain and driven them out of the country.

Did Columbus tag after the retreating Muslims and hire a navigator and a few sailors? According to the leading authority on Columbus’s voyages, the historian Samuel Eliot Morison, the name of Columbus’s navigator was Martín Pinzón, who served as captain of the Pinta. Of the known names of his crew members, there is an abundance of Juans and Pedros, but nary a Mahmoud or Ahmad. In those days, Christian names almost always meant the bearer was a Christian. As Muhammad Ali and Yusuf Islam can tell you, it is unlikely that a Muslim would have borne a Christian name.
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