Columbus Day: Celebrating Ignorance

Columbus_webA genocidal war monger, a lost sailor with no clue, founding father of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the man who “discovered the Americas.” Out of all those, which do you think is truth?

In elementary school we were taught that Christopher Columbus sailed across the ocean believing the earth was round and he could get to Asia and he discovered the Americas instead, while so many others thought the world was flat and he’d sail right off the edge. While that is a very whimsical story, it has some falsehood to it, mainly: is it really discovering a new place if people already live there?

They always make Columbus sound like this great and bright hero that should be celebrated, but I ask not just DMACC but all of America this: why should we celebrate this man? If anything we should condemn his actions.

On October 12, 1492, Columbus and his crew landed in the Bahamas and immediately thought he was in the Indies when he met the Arawaks and later the Taino and Lucayan tribes. Its 500+ years later and many Americans still have the racist disrespect to call them Indians, even though in the early 1500s an Italian man named Amerigo Vespucci realized that it was not India, the Indies or anywhere near Asia. Is that any surprise from a nation that makes mascots out of there indigenous people, such as the Washington “Red Skins.”

During many trips to and from the islands Columbus would take unwilling natives from the islands back to Europe to sell as slaves. One of his first encounters he wrote down in his journal which states, “They … brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things… They willingly traded everything they owned… They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…. 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 have no iron. Their spears are made of cane…. They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

He also committed such practices as Monteria infernal, also known as the Infernal Chase; in which massive dogs (usually “Canary catch dogs”) would run down human beings, kill them and eat them. This practice started in the Canary Islands by the Spanish king and queen to seize the Granada from the Moors during the Spanish inquisition.

But I digress; not only were there already people living on those islands but Columbus wasn’t the first European to touch American soil, Lief Ericson and his crew had been in north America some 400 years before Columbus ever lived. Columbus never actually stepped foot on mainland Americas. Something I learned in geography class was that a man named Pythagoras realized the earth was round and it revolved around the sun in ancient Greece around the year of 500 BCE.

It is highly offensive to Native Americans and Hispanic peoples, to celebrate a man that terrorized their ancestors. I think it is worse than that, to celebrate an ignorant man for something he did not do in the first place, many colleges and cities across the United States have officially changed Columbus Day to Indigenous peoples day, and this is the way I believe DMACC and Iowa should go. So I leave this article with a question, why celebrate ignorance, idiocy and tyranny by recognizing a holiday for Christopher Columbus?

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