I took yesterday, Colombus Day, off. You know why? Because as an Indian (South American elective cardiac surgery type, not the savages who were not particularly courteous to that nice General Custer) I wanted to take some personal time to remember and revere the memory of Christopher Colombus.

I did that in a fitting way by sitting around a campfire (cigar lounge) smoking a pipe (Fuente Hemingway 898), and drinking firewater (Elijah Craig). I did this with the descendants of alleged European oppressors who have done more for us indigenous lads than all government programs since the beginning of recorded history.

How do I come to these admittedly iconoclastic views? My long ago ancestors on my mother’s side resided in the Antiocha region of Colombia. These folks were not quite Parisians of the 1920s, but more resembled the guys with Moe Howard haircuts who were usually caught spearfishing on bygone covers of National Geographic.

When Spanish conquistadors on horseback came to the land, with really complicated inventions like the wheel, we naturally thought they were centaurs and treated them accordingly. When the Spaniards stopped laughing they asked us where the gold was. We, noble and brave, pointed them in the direction of the Incas and chewed maze-flavored popcorn while we watched Atahualpa take it up his thong. As the Incas had not been especially adorable to surrounding tribes, it struck us as just deserts. We then went about our business trying to figure out the wheel and, festooned in feathers and loin cloths, playing a basketball kind of game only still seen in liberal white documentaries on the glory of Pre-Columbian civilization. Actually, not so glorious.

As in other areas of the world before the West got there, disease, tyranny, tribal infighting, barbarism, and other such fun was rife. I’m not saying the Spaniards got there and everything turned to Skittles and unicorns. But, the road to civilization was begun.

The native mayhem and carnage that had gone on for hundreds of years, if not more, would have continued unabated if the supposed centaurs hadn’t arrived and, by serious trial and error, cleaned up the joint.

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I can hear some of you now: Racist, etc! Native Americans had a culture and civilization that was wonderful and it was destroyed by the West! Yeah, human sacrifice and baying at the clouds were oh soooo cultured. Uh huh, just like a fundraiser at the Met.

Like it or not, with a lot of bumps along the way, the West has been an agent for good all over the world. No, we Europeans (I’m two thirds Spanish) are not perfect. But there are a lot of places that would be much less on the ball without us. Thus, thanks Colombus. The ball started rolling with you.