Tag Archives: Howard Zinn

Columbus Day is no reason to celebrate

Image from law.marquette.edu

“They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance … They would make fine servants … With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”
Christopher Columbus

And here we are today – October 10, 2011. America! The great white man’s world! We deserve this, right? Our happiness and quality of life was created and maintained on hard work and perseverance, right? We owe it to the great mariner himself, Christopher Columbus!

Well, sort of. But, not really.

Let’s give Columbus credit where credit is due. (This shouldn’t take long): Kudos on finding America, even though you weren’t looking for it.

Christopher Columbus

Now that praise has been offered, let’s look further into the ambitious one’s discovery. Now, I accept that I probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Columbus’ inability to own a GPS in 1492. But that doesn’t excuse his ruthless tactics in destroying the Native Americans’ way of life.

Columbus is responsible for a level of genocide that can only be described as astonishing. Ever since this point, Native Americans have been treated as second-class citizens. For this, Hawaii, Alaska and South Dakota refuse to recognize the formal holiday of Columbus Day.

The University of California, Los Angeles published documents from the era in which Columbus and his gaggle of slave owners founded America. The editor of that project, Geoffrey Symcox, had this to say:

“While giving the brilliant mariner his due, the collection portrays Columbus as an unrelenting social climber and self-promoter who stopped at nothing – not even exploitation, slavery, or twisting Biblical scripture – to advance his ambitions … Many of the unflattering documents have been known for the last century or more, but nobody paid much attention to them until recently … The fact that Columbus brought slavery, enormous exploitation or devastating diseases to the Americas used to be seen as a minor detail – if it was recognized at all – in light of his role as the great bringer of white man’s civilization to the benighted idolatrous American continent. But to historians today this information is very important. It changes our whole view of the enterprise.”

Other documents detail Spaniards within Columbus’ fleet “knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades.”

This day is a cause for celebration? The only difference between Columbus and Osama bin Laden is that bin Laden never set foot in America.

Ignorance is bliss

How, exactly, does the factual evidence of the Columbus massacre not penetrate deeper into society? Why is it not taught in schools? Why does it take a book like “A People’s History of the United States” to put something like this on the map?

America must get over its squeaky-clean image it has fabricated for itself. We’re not a Norman Rockwell painting. We have a disgusting past that we must accept. And by accepting that, we must take Columbus Day down from the pedestal of being a federal holiday. (One more day of work for some of you. I’m sorry.)

This does not mean we must feel guilt for being in America. Sure, we’re ruining it. But that’s a different post for a later date.

Remember today for your heritage. But don’t let the atrocities slip your mind. What that motto we used for 9/11? “Never forget?” Well, let’s remember and never forget where we come from and who lost their lives for out life of luxury.

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