October 9 marks Columbus Day, a day in which America celebrates our most famous half-wit harbinger of genocidal calamity.
While an increasing number of communities across the United States have begun rejecting Columbus Day for the more appropriate “Indigenous Peoples Day,” there are nevertheless some people who have decided that honoring a man who loved cruelty and misery as much as he loved refusing to believe that Cuba might not actually be India after all is the incredibly stupid hill they want to die on. And some of them published painfully bad takes about Christopher Columbus today.
Let’s take a look!
In an pro-Columbus essay for The Hill, amateur “historian” and noted alleged sexual abuser Bill O’Reilly wrote:
Along the way, Columbus ran into some Indian tribes, most notably the Caribes. They did not like Chris and his malodorous European crews. Strife broke out and some bad stuff went down on both sides.
It seems like “both sides”-ing isn’t reserved for defending Nazis anymore. Here, O’Reilly uses it to defend the exact moment that kicked off half a millennia of European colonialism and systemic racism against Native people. But, hey, gotta be fair and balanced.
On the Island of Hispaniola, present day Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Columbus did establish slavery to support various laborious enterprises. Not good. Slave labor was common at the time the world over but that’s no excuse.
Look, sure, slavery is bad. But maybe it’s not SO bad when everybody’s doing it, right?
For Lewis, Christopher Columbus was a flawed man who nevertheless represents America at its most ass-kickingist. Or something. In The Daily Beast, he said:
I’m not here to argue that Columbus was a great man, because, frankly, this isn’t even about him. This is a surrogate battle to take down yet another symbol of American identity. Many things that were almost universally accepted in the past are today viewed as backward and barbaric. This is because our values have evolved over time.
God forbid our evolving values come with an evolving sense of who we choose to honor and why.
The trick, though, for those hoping to take down yesterday’s heroes is to retroactively impose today’s values on yesterday’s men—and judge them solely on their worst attributes, not their great accomplishments. This game ensures that we can have no honorable heroes. Most flesh and blood humans have made mistakes. Case in point: Martin Luther King, Jr. Serial philanderer. Should that negate his amazing contributions? I don’t think so.
Putting aside that gross comparison, what, exactly, is Columbus’ “great accomplishment” here? Mistakenly landing on an island already populated by people who were doing just fine without him, some 9,000 miles away from his intended destination? Sure, introducing those indigenous people to centuries of of genocide, slavery, and colonization is certainly an accomplishment of sorts, but not quite a great one.
Those who now question Columbus conveniently ignore the fact that slavery, cannibalism, warfare and even human sacrifice all existed in the Americas before he even sailed.
Even so, some today blame Columbus for everything they dislike in U.S. history, despite the ample evidence that he was a moderating force on his men, and the fact that he sought to keep good manners and friendly relations with Native Americans.
It’s not fair to blame the very polite man, since the indigenous people were definitely a bunch of savages!
Today, Americans learn little to nothing of English atrocities in America, while Columbus — who sailed under Spain’s flag and never actually set foot on the territory of the United States — is blamed for every mistake any Spaniard or Portuguese explorer or colonist ever made — and any that the British or Americans made as well.
Don’t blame Columbus for all the atrocities his crowning achievement paved the way for. Because:
Spain’s kings quickly gave Spanish citizenship to Native Americans and began restricting enslavement of Native Americans, after a theological debate. Spain began a moral revolution when slavery was accepted by the rest of the European countries. Meanwhile, Spain built universities to educate the Indians and churches to minister to their spiritual needs.
See? Spain is the good guy here, what with their extremely gradual rejection of slavery! And, wasn’t it great of them to launch an industry of philosophical and religious indoctrination for people who never asked for it in the first place?
Meanwhile, there’s still no holiday celebrating Hatuey, the Taino chief who lead the first native rebellion against European colonialists who “worship gold” and “usurp our land.”