I like to pull this post up on this day every year. Here is something to ponder if you have the day off.
North Americans celebrate today, Columbus day, as a mere method of generating a great “sense” of nationalism and to promote Occidentalism via grand herofication of imperialism; I do not celebrate this day due to the historical injustices taught in schools. Thus, I will spend today in my study working as a sign of protest. How can we as historians allow such grand lies to be accepted by a population that wants to be ignorant of historical truths? Only in the United States do they call the truth about Columbus “revisionist history.” Keep in mind that states such as Arizona refused to make Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday a state holiday. Noted North Carolina’s Republican [racist] Jesse Helms once stated that “his state should not accept this federal holiday because King had not done anything important.” He also pointed out that he was a Marxist who opposed the Vietnam War. Why is it that every progressive educated black person must be a Marxist? President Reagan also opposed this holiday, too. But, Americans continue to lie about the purity of Columbus. Sounds more like jingoism than nationalism. Tyler Look, a current student of mine, sent me this article on how some schools are addressing the dark side of Columbus.
Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States devotes an entire chapter to this topic. Below is an excerpt stating:
… because of Columbus’s exaggerated report and promises, his second expedition was given seventeen ships and more than twelve hundred men. The aim was clear: slaves and gold. They went from island to island in the Caribbean, taking Indians as captives. But as word spread of the Europeans’ intent they found more and more empty villages. On Haiti, they found that the sailors left behind at Fort Navidad had been killed in a battle with the Indians, after they had roamed the island in gangs looking for gold, taking women and children as slaves for sex and labor.
Now, from his base on Haiti, Columbus sent expedition after expedition into the interior. They found no gold fields, but had to fill up the ships returning to Spain with some kind of dividend. In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships. Of those five hundred, two hundred died en route. The rest arrived alive in Spain and were put up for sale by the archdeacon of the town, who reported that, although the slaves were “naked as the day they were born,” they showed “no more embarrassment than animals.” Columbus later wrote: “Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.”