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This Monday, October 14, is designated as Columbus Day in America. It’s not okay. Christopher Columbus was a vile human, as evidenced by his own journals, the journals of his crew, and by general history.

Let me preface this blog by saying that I am an Italian-American (among other things), 1/4 Siciliana, but I do not play the game of supporting a heinous historical figure just because he’s from my part of the world. Not cool.

There was a man on a news program the other day vehemently defending Columbus, his basis being that he was Italian and Italians should be proud of their heritage. Um, excuse me, but why should any nationality be proud of its criminals? Again, not cool. Here are some valid reasons to not celebrate Columbus Day:

  • He did not prove the world was round nor did he discover America. That had already happened.
  • He enabled and encouraged rape of native women. From one of the journals of his crew: “While I was in the boat, I captured a very beautiful woman, whom the Lord Admiral [Columbus] gave to me. When I had taken her to my cabin she was naked — as was their custom. I was filled with a desire to take my pleasure with her and attempted to satisfy my desire. She was unwilling, and so treated me with her nails that I wished I had never begun. I then took a piece of rope and whipped her soundly, and she let forth such incredible screams that you would not have believed your ears. Eventually we came to such terms, I assure you, that you would have thought she had been brought up in a school for whores.” Sick. Disgusting. Reprehensible.
  • He opened the Atlantic slave trade by forcibly capturing approximately 1,500 Taino and attempted to bring them to Europe to offer them for sale. Many died on the way over, the rest were sold as slaves in Spain.
  • He ordered the torture and murder of natives. Natives were hunted for sport, fed to dogs, and punished in horrible ways for not being able to find gold.
  • He and his crew introduced widespread disease into the New World. 
  • His arrival was the beginning of the genocide of the Taino.

As with all history, we not only have to look at the good, the bad, and the ugly, but to designate which is which. Columbus definitely fits into the later two categories.

My suggestion? Instead of celebrating a rapist and murderer, why not celebrate Indigenous People Day? Or celebrate Bartolomè de las Casas, a Spaniard who devoted his life to helping the natives in the New World. Or just ignore Columbus Day. These are all good options.

This is a really good link if you want to learn more: https://theoatmeal.com/comics/columbus_day

Peace.

 

 

 

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Confession time… I’m a snob. Yep, a full-fledged snob. I freely admit it, although it can be embarrassing at times, but owning our faults is a good thing, right? Except I’m not altogether sure that I’m wrong on this.

What kind of snob, you ask? The worst kind, as it turns out.

I’m a history snob.

I wasn’t always this way. I didn’t know any better when I was a kid. It really didn’t start kicking in until I was around sixteen and I started learning about real period clothing (By the way, period clothing means clothing specific to a certain time period and has nothing to do with that time of the month, in case you were wondering.). I began modeling for my friend, Jackie, who owns her own period clothing company, and learned what was accurate and what was not. It turns out that a lot of so-called “historic clothing” is not historic at all. I had had no clue. I realized that my 5th grade costume for the field trip to Greenfield Village had been a total sham and I cringed in shame. The seeds of my snobbery had been sewn.

When I started working at Greenfield Village, it steadily got worse. A group of farm friends went to see the new movie, The Scarlet Letter, starring Demi Moore. For the length of the movie, our boss pointed out every inaccuracy, down to the hinges on boxes. I was fascinated, and a little irritated. Why did they (meaning Hollywood) do everything wrong? Why couldn’t they do it right? Ugh. I was turning into an early version of the snob I am today.

It only intensified. I read, I studied, I went to museum conferences and learned so many cool things about clothing, social customs, animal husbandry, farming and farm tools, and of course, my forte: historic hair styles.

I regret nothing.

My snobbery is the reason why I can’t get into shows like The Tudors. I hate twisted history, especially when the real history is so much more exciting. I mean, seriously, if people really read the story of the real Tudor family it would blow them away. It has all of the things people want on Netflix anyway: sex, knights, sex, beautiful princesses, sex, murder, sex, betrayal, sex. You get the idea.

My big problem with inaccurate history is that people believe it. It’s not their fault, they don’t know any better, and the “history” is presented in such an attractive way that they think it’s really cool and spread it around. This is how rumors get started and we get stories like George Washington chopping down the cherry tree or we make a rat like Columbus into a hero or wear god-awful Civil War-style clothing.

Shows like The Crown and Downton Abbey give me hope, though. There is such attention paid to detail and social norms of the time and I find it refreshing. Of course, they’re not perfect, but they give a much truer portrayal of life in those times than many other shows and movies.

So there it is. I came clean with one of my (many) issues. There are no support groups that can help me and I don’t think I’d go anyway. Now, it’s your turn.

What are you a snob about? Time to ‘fess up.

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