Skip to comments.Exploring Christopher Columbus--Was he a great man or a racist oppressor?
Posted on 10/09/2006 7:30:56 AM PDT by SJackson
"Dad, why does America celebrate Columbus Day?"
"Well, Billy, in 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed from Europe to America and founded the very first settlement in the New World. His arrival marks the beginning of America as we know it."
"But didn't he discover America by accident, dad?"
"Columbus believed the Earth was a sphere. He thought he could reach the Far East by setting off on a westward course. Though he stumbled upon what is now the Bahamas by accident, he was still a great explorer and a great man, Billy."
"A great man, dad, or a racist oppressor?"
"Pardon me, son?"
"When Columbus came to America, he brought with him the greed of the white European males who subsequently colonized America for the dough. They fought and killed the Indigenous Peoples who were already here and took their land and their gold. Columbus eventually died a very rich man."
"Well, Billy, an unfortunate part of human history involves countries invading their neighbors to take control. This has happened in many parts of the world, including Europe, which has a long history of war. But remember that Indigenous Peoples were also prone to war and fighting to expand their control well before Europeans arrived."
"Well, Columbus is also responsible for many germs and diseases that Europeans brought to America, causing untold suffering and death among the people who were here before us."
"Have you been drinking too much caffeine lately, Billy?"
"America's history of environmental destruction can also be laid at Columbus' feet, dad. As soon as the Europeans colonized America's pristine lands, they cut down the trees and plowed up the fields. Can you say soil erosion, dad?"
"Son, did I ever tell you that you take after your mother's side?"
"And what about slavery? It was the Europeans who created a flourishing slave trade in America. They did it to develop the land cheaply, so they could make giant profits. Columbus even made slaves out of some of the Indigenous Peoples who attacked him and his men."
"Son, do you remember where your mother hid the bourbon?"
"I'll tell you another thing, dad. Some people believe the only reason we even celebrate Columbus Day is because he was Italian, and the day is also a celebration of Italian heritage. Some believe that when FDR made Columbus Day official in 1934, he did so not just because Columbus discovered the New World, but because Italian immigrants in America represented millions of votes."
"Look, Billy, there are a lot of ways to look at what Christopher Columbus symbolizes. You can focus on the negative attributes, and there are some, or you can do what America has been doing for many years now: focus on the positive."
"Sure, Billy. Columbus represents the spirit of exploration, the spirit of pushing forward into the great unknown to find greater and better things. This has always been the spirit of America, the land of innovation and new ideas."
"What kind of ideas, dad?"
"How about the ideas of freedom and self-government, Billy? After Columbus opened a gateway to the New World, other European countries established colonies here, too. Eventually, some amazing historical figures would evolve in North America. They would create and fight for a way of life that has proved to be extremely successful - their ideas are still spreading and changing the world for the better."
"Yes, son. The concept of freedom has taken root so solidly in America that people are free to criticize or praise anything, including whether or not Christopher Columbus was a hero or an ogre, or whether or not Columbus Day should still be celebrated in America. Now, do you have any other questions about history?"
"Sure, dad. Was Benjamin Franklin really a predatory male chauvinist womanizer?"
It is amazing how differently the left and right view America.
Dont let Tony Sopranos crew see this article!!!
For some reason, this always brings to mind the Bugs Bunny version of events where Columbus and King Ferdinand speak with stereotypic Italian and Mexican accents, respectively, and Queen Isabella says, in Mae West's voice, "Oh, Chris ... if you discover the New World, I'll give you my jewels."
Check out Ice Age Columbus on the Discovery channel.
He actually thought he had reached the East Indies when he landed in the New World, which means his estimate for the size of the globe was off by thousands of miles.
All was not peaceful in this hemisphere and the indifenous peoples' warred with one another, taking their land, their gold, and indoctrinating them in the new religious faith.
Their nitwit English teacher at the Catholic high school sold it to them. That is, until I got a hold of them.
"Columbus was a mediocre explorer at best."
In those days, if you came back alive, you were a great explorer.
There's some reasonably credible evidence that Columbus wasn't Italian at all, but Catalan.
Has this same teacher bother to tell the students that Bill Clinton was also credibly accused of being a serial rapist?
According to the girls, his hands were Roman.
(He's a proud Democrat, but he's got a great mind, and is unafraid to call the Dems out on their failures and hypocrisies.)
Since most of the rest of the world's populace had the same expectations at the time (and many of those with other ideas still thought the world was flat), it's hard to fault him for that misconception.
Very few people in the 15th century with even a rudimentary understanding of basic science still believed that the earth was flat. The shape of the earth was pretty well established by that time, and the Greek mathematician Eratosthenes had made a pretty accurate estimate of the earth's circumference as far back as about 200 B.C., which means Columbus' "science" was out of date by about 1,700 years.
Larry: "Rape, disease, slavery. What do you say for yourself Chris?
Chris: "I'm-a just an explorer!"
Larry: "They say you destroyed an indigenous people."
Chris: "All I wanna' do is prove the world, she a-round, like an egg!"
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.