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Monday, October 10, 2005

Columbus Day

I remember Columbus Day in first grade at my (private) elementary school. The teacher made a play model of the Santa Maria out of cardboard, and we all listened eagerly as she explained how brave Christopher embarked from Europe, daring to do what no one had done before- reach Asia by crossing the Atlantic. We learned how he persevered through terrifying storms and mutiny, bringing back news that eventually led to the colonization of America.

What a shock I received next year when I entered public school: Christopher Columbus was not a valiant and courageous leader who dared to face death and push the boundaries of the known world; he was a brutal tyrant, who murdered happy, peaceful natives and destroyed their admirable civilization.

This year has been more of the same.

My teachers, unfortunately, lacked the self-control to spare us from their tirades. “Christopher murdered hundreds of Tainos! Columbus raped the Taino women! He infected the entire continent with syphilis! Before the Europeans landed in the Americas and polluted the water, natives could drink straight from the rivers!” And those are exact quotes.

The worst of it was when the class would join in, thinking of course that they are the radicals, the non-conformists. But they just march in step to the steady beat their teachers have always struck.

Admittedly, Christopher Columbus was not perfect, but he was no barbarian either. In studying history, we cannot judge people who lived in different times and cultures by what we know today.

Columbus may have taken three Indians back to the Old World (and that is the extent of his evil), but most of what he did isn't so important as what he didn’t do:


He didn’t fall of the edge of the world.


Interesting Read:

Christopher Columbus, Multicultural
Politics, not history, is behind this new tale.
By Robert Spencer

8 Comments:

Anonymous fortunecookie said...

Dear God, it's an abomination. Look how in just a decade or so of concentrated effort, they've turned Columbus from a man of fame, whose story held for centuries, into a criminal who stole and forced the natives to be his guides. When my son was in grade school less than a decade ago, he first learned (in school, I had also taught him about CC) about Columbus as a hero, an adventurer, world traveler. In just a year or so later, politically correct editions of history came out, during the Clinton years, demonizing him and making him into a criminal who stole the country from it's poor owners. Some of the teachers refused to go along with it at first, in the parochial grade school he attended. But threats of loss of accredation 'reformed' curriculum. And they were late to change. Ugh. It galls me to think how the lefties have taken our country and turned it on it's ear in such a relatively short time, with the approval of so many.

October 10, 2005 5:03 PM  
Anonymous muawiyah said...

About those Tainos ~ until last year it has been popularly believed that the Tainos and other Caribbean Indians were killed or died off from European disease.
More recently it has been discovered that the "background" of your average resident of Puerto Rico is roughly 1/3 European, 1/3 African and 1/3 Taino.
Those rascally Tainos seem to have done something besides die, eh?!

October 10, 2005 5:04 PM  
Blogger Scotty P. said...

You people are so stupid...
You control the house, the senate and the white house, and now the supreme court, and you're still whining about the lefties taking over the country. quit complaining and do something positive with all that power you've amassed. Oh and by the way, while I don't judge columbus by today's standards, there's no arguing the fact that he did murder thousands of indigenous people in jamaica. they were called the arawak indians, in case you might've thought they were tainos.

October 11, 2005 3:44 PM  
Anonymous Molloy said...

Scotty,

Hey, I'm the troll here!

No, seriously, Daniel, as an historian, I want Columbus neither glorified nor villified.

However, I'm disturbed that you ignore historical evidence in order to downplay Columbus's "evil." He did a lot more than just "take" "three" Indians back to Spain (there were more than three, by the way, and what's up with "take"? Those people were kidnapped and sold into slavery. I also believe that many of them died of exposure on the way back to Europe. He did not "take" them to Europe in the same sense that one might "take" someone out to dinner.)

Columbus's crew murdered, raped, mutilated, and enslaved thousands of people. You can make an argument that it is difficult to judge Columbus's acions by today's standards, but it's no good to pretend they were something other than they were.

For more on Columbus, please see this excerpt from Las Casas's A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies:

http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/delascasas.html

P.s.: Scotty, muawiya: the Taino were relatives of the Arawak, if that sheds light on anything

October 11, 2005 6:04 PM  
Blogger Daniel Christianson said...

Molloy,

My information stated otherwise. I find it difficult to believe about 80 weary sailors overwhelmed thousands of natives, but then there was Cortez. I will verify and reply.

Yes, it was evil to enslave those natives. So I said.

My point is that it is pathetic, how so many people in the educational establishment ignore what Columbus did accomplish, what makes him more significant than just some explorer; and, in the larger sense, how in their self-depreciating tirades they automatically demonize anything overtly associated with America.



Scotty,

I never mentioned the word "liberal." Not once. Are you suggesting it is the liberal position to mischaracterize history? Are you insinuating the left hates America?

October 11, 2005 6:16 PM  
Blogger Daniel Christianson said...

Quote: " quit complaining and do something positive with all that power you've amassed"

I couldn't agree more! Sounds like a rallying cry to me!

October 11, 2005 6:17 PM  
Anonymous Molloy said...

and, in the larger sense, how in their self-depreciating tirades they automatically demonize anything overtly associated with America.


I don't really understand this. Columbus is the one being demonized, but he was not American. His victims were. So demonizing the European Columbus for committing genocide against Americans would seem to me to be a pro-American thing to do.

October 11, 2005 9:32 PM  
Blogger Daniel Christianson said...

Actually, neither the Natives nor Columbus were Americans in the strict sense, and neither were they native to the United States. As I said, Columbus was not American but "associated with America." We look to his efforts in exploring our continent as the beginning of what would lead to the establishment of the thirteen origional American colonies.

November 25, 2005 10:41 AM  

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