Intern Myles Hutto offers his two cents on today’s holiday.
Columbus Day was first observed in 1792, in New York to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of the new world. It gradually caught on mostly in places with large Italian/Catholic communities.
A good ol’ public school education paints Christopher Columbus as a brave explorer. I won’t argue this point. Columbus discovered the Americas in a time when most authorities believed not only in sea monsters but also that the world was flat and a ship could sail off the edge of the world and fall into oblivion. The trip took balls, but that’s where historical accuracy gives way to personal opinion. I hate to argue with a government-endorsed textbook but I think I must.
The truth is that history is written by the survivors. It would behoove you to read A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. While you’re at it you should listen to Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer.” Not only does it have a sick guitar solo but it paints a great picture of what really happened.
Let’s debunk some myths about ol’ Chris.
First of all, he didn’t in search of the “New World,” but rather he stumbled upon it in a quest to find another trade route to India, hence him calling Native Americans “Indians.” So it was completely by accident that the European empires came to know of the Americas. It wasn’t his great abilities as a nautical navigator but rather pure luck that we even remember his name.
Secondly, how can you discover a place where people already are? Every place that Columbus “discovered” was already inhabited. That’s like me going to Hawaii for vacation and saying that I discovered it. It just doesn’t make sense.
Also, Columbus didn’t exactly offer his new neighbors a fresh-baked cake when he moved into the neighborhood. Columbus wasn’t in America to have backyard BBQ’s with the natives. He was there to conquer in the name of Catholicism and imperialism. There is no more clear example of ethnic cleansing than in the New World. Columbus enslaved the natives, forced his religion and ways on them, stole their gold, and burnt their cities to the ground.
I love America and couldn’t be prouder to call it home, but celebrating Christopher Columbus day is like Germany deciding to celebrate Adolf Hitler Day. So while you’re out there enjoying all those Columbus Day Sales and pissed off when you run to the bank to find it closed, just remember what you’re really celebrating. God bless America. —Myles Hutto