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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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