Every school child learns that in "1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue." What they don't learn is what the people behind the Reconsider Columbus Day movement are trying to help people understand.
"Columbus committed heinous crimes against the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean and millions of natives through the Americas," says the public service announcement, which is being distributed by the group via their website and social media networks.
See the video below:
It's easy to ignore this. It was a long time ago and who doesn't like the day off? But, his crimes against humanity are not easily forgotten. In other words, we don't celebrate Adolf Hitler Day or Pol Pot Week for a reason.
Here are some of the things Columbus did as compiled by UnderstandingPrejudice.org, a website established with funding from the National Science Foundation and McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
He was not respectful of other religions: Part of his motivation to leave his native country was to convert the natives to Catholicism since the Jews who refused to convert to Catholicism had been expelled from Spain just months before, a process he lauded in a letter to Ferdinand and Isabella.
He was responsible for slavery: Columbus wasn't motivated by a desire to explore and learn, he was motivated by greed and by the money to be made in the slave trade. His slavery begot more slavery because of the desire for sugar and led to the atrocities of the Middle Passage (taking Africans from their homes forcibly as part of the Atlantic Slave Trade).
On October 12, 1492 (the first day he encountered the native people of the Americas), Columbus wrote in his journal: "They should be good servants .... I, our Lord being pleased, will take hence, at the time of my departure, six natives for your Highnesses." These captives were later paraded through the streets of Barcelona and Seville when Columbus returned to Spain.
He "discovered" nothing: There were natives already living in this land and the Vikings had been here before. "Columbus's claim to fame isn't that he got there first," explains historian Martin Dugard, "it's that he stayed."
Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1971 and he has always been lauded as the discoverer of the New World. And yet, he wasn't.
While it might seem silly and unimportant to be politically correct, in this case, it's about more than that. We are celebrating someone who doesn't deserve celebrating. Perhaps he was a product of his times, but he was also a human being who could discern right from wrong.
How about we celebrate the people who resisted the temptation toward greed and hatred for other cultures? Seems pretty simple. No liberal, politically correct agenda, just a basic human understanding of what we should and should not be condoning.
Do you think we should celebrate Indigenous People's Day instead?
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