Throw The Whole Holiday Away: Columbus Day!



With the recent surge of civil rights protestors and nationalists petitioning for the removal of Confederate monuments around the United States. Some even going as far as destroying statues themselves. A serious question is being posed for America. If Confederate monuments demoralize American values because of their direct association with the organization of slavery, racism, and division; wouldn't these standards also apply to national holidays as well?






I mean let's take Columbus Day for example.

Each year Christopher Columbus is revered as the European voyager who sailed the uncharted seas and discovered this new undeveloped land inhabited by just a few lonely and uncivilized savages who needed to be Christianized. This is what is taught in schools.

European Americans are comfortable with this image because it depicts their ancestors as heroic. Flip the coin the other way and that same image downplays the tragic impact his legacy had on the indigenous population of the Americas and Africa.

How come school textbooks don't tell students that Columbus was the first European to bring slavery to the Americas?

After encountering the natives on his first voyage, Columbus wrote in his journal that he could "...conquer the whole of them with fifty men" and govern them as he pleased.

Miguel Cuneo, a crew member accompanying Columbus on his second voyage to the Americas in 1494 wrote in a letter that Columbus captured 1,600 natives on the island of Hispaniola and hoarded them to their settlement Isabela. From there 650 men and women were involuntarily "loaded' aboard Spanish sea vessels like cargo destined for slave markets in Spain. Another 550 natives were awarded to Spanish settlers to " take them as he wished, and so it was." Cuneo also bragged about raping a young girl given to him by Columbus.

Bartolom√© de Las Casas, a Spanish priest accompanying Columbus’s third voyage wrote in a report, "(I say no more than what I saw)...He separated and divided Families, forcing Married Men from their Wives, and young girls from their Parents, which he bestowed upon his Mariners and Soldiers, to gratify their burning lust."

The men were forced to labor the gold mines while the women worked the fields. They were provided so little to eat that nursing mother's breast milk would dry up and their infants starved to death. Eventually, the men and women would perish from hunger and overexertion.

The Spanish invaders attacked the indigenous populations, not sparing men, women or children. Constant purging, slavery, hunger, and European disease decimated Caribbean native populations with a death toll between 12 to 50 million within 40 years according to Las Casas.

An early painting of pre-Columbian Americans


The native population was depleted so low the Spanish slavers began importing African slaves to the Caribbean in 1502; by 1510, the Atlantic Slave Trade became an integral part of the American economy for European colonist.

It is important now, in the 21st century that we look at Columbus's arrival to the West Indies through the eyes of the millions of people who were killed for sport, raped, enslaved, separated from their families, and robbed of their identities. The Eurocentric view of Columbus as a hero who deserves a holiday instead of a terrorist is a hypocrisy to a nation supposedly founded on Christian views.

In 1986 after overthrowing the Duvalier regime Haitian protestors, tossed the great statue of Columbus into the ocean. It's time America does the same with Columbus Day. It should be replaced with a new federally recognized tribute to the indigenous tribes and victims of the slave trade.

References:

JOURNAL OF THE FIRST VOYAGE OF COLUMBUS

A Brief Account of the Destruction of the by Bartolome de las Casas

Maid to Order:
Columbus' "Cannibal Girl" and the Captivity Narrative


Michele da Cuneo letter

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