Monday, October 11, 2004

Columbus Was A Prick

It's "Columbus Day" here in the United States. I give you excerpts from a 1998 article entitled Columbus Day is nothing to celebrate:

In 1492, as any schoolchild knows, Columbus sailed from Spain with three small ships, searching for a new sea route to the rich countries of India and China. He didn’t find India, but he did stumble upon the Americas. On October 12, his flagship, the Santa Maria, ran aground on a reef just off the coast of the island of Hispaniola. The local chief of the Arawaks, the native inhabitants, rescued Columbus's crew and welcomed them warmly, in accordance with their customs.

The Spanish sailors did not share the Arawak custom of sharing and peaceable coexistence. They spied the tiny gold ornaments the Arawaks were sporting and decided that the region was swimming in riches. Columbus also noticed that the locals had no weapons capable of resisting Spanish rule. As historian Howard Zinn documents in “A People’s History of the United States” (Harper & Row, 1980), Columbus wrote in his journal, "They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane .... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."

After King Ferdinand granted him governorship of the region, Columbus and his men captured Arawaks by the thousands, forcing them to procure gold. Those who could not produce the required amounts had their hands cut off and were left to bleed to death. Columbus forced the men to work in Spanish gold mines and the women to grow food. Natives who resisted the new rulers were hunted down with dogs and burned alive or hanged.

Despite these horrors, history books commonly portray Columbus as a hero. Historians have long sugarcoated the slaughter, noting Columbus' atrocities only in passing or explaining away his barbarous acts as being "just how things were done in those days."

We have been misled about Christopher Columbus. As the truth emerges, Americans of all ethnic and religious affinities are joining Native Americans in refusing to celebrate Columbus Day. The death and slavery of Indians is nothing to celebrate.
If you'd like to learn some more interesting facts and information about the guy that you didn't get in your school history books, I suggest the following links:

Columbus Day - The Great Lie
The Truth About Columbus
Uncommemorating "Columbus Day"


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