Who Was Christopher Columbus...Really?

This coming Monday we celebrate the 'official' holiday of Columbus Day, ostensibly recognizing the great explorer who "discovered the New World."  Not only is this technically not true, as there were numerous others who came before him, also here.  But worse, Columbus may not have been the wonderful humanitarian explorer we thought he was.  In fact, if the following is true, he was a horrible human being.  The page just linked above is very compelling.  Go there.

Read on (excerpted below).  And happy Columbus Day.

Once again, it's time to celebrate Columbus Day. Yet, the stunning truth is: If Christopher Columbus were alive today, he would be put on trial for crimes against humanity. Columbus' reign of terror, as documented by noted historians, was so bloody, his legacy so unspeakably cruel, that Columbus makes a modern villain like Saddam Hussein look like a pale codfish.

Question: Why do we honor a man who, if he were alive today, would almost certainly be sitting on Death Row awaiting execution?
If you'd like to know the true story about Christopher Columbus, please read on. But I warn you, it's not for the faint of heart.

Here's the basics. On the second Monday in October each year, we celebrate Columbus Day (this year, it's on October 11th). We teach our school kids a cute little song that goes: "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." It's an American tradition, as American as pizza pie. Or is it? Surprisingly, the true story of Christopher Columbus has very little in common with the myth we all learned in school.

Columbus Day, as we know it in the United States, was invented by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal service organization. Back in the 1930s, they were looking for a Catholic hero as a role-model their kids could look up to. In 1934, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, Congress and President Franklin Roosevelt signed Columbus Day into law as a federal holiday to honor this courageous explorer. Or so we thought...

Comments

Lost and Found said…
Wow, that is so fascinating... and sickening.

Thanks for sharing! No Columbus Day for me... Yikes...
tesyaa said…
Yes, he was no better than most of the barbarians who lived in the 15th century. Read Samuel Eliot Morison's "Admiral of the Ocean Seas" for an excellent bio of Columbus. It's fascinating and pretty readable.
tesyaa said…
In other words, he was pretty bad. There are no Arawaks left to testify against him today.
Lady-Light said…
Lost & Found: We've all been duped, from grade school onward--we grew up thinking that Christopher Columbus was an intrepid explorer and a hero. I believe it's time for updating elementary school history books, and revising at least this American history celebration.
tesyaa: So true. But some say that a remnant of the Arawak still exist in Guyana today, but that the Arawak language is spoken by the elders, not the youth, thus dying out.
Lost and Found said…
Yes, but I think there are a ton of important historical inaccuracies that need to be corrected.

More often than not, the ugly aspects of a ruling power's history get hidden. That's the nature of being powerful, you get to decide what you want the world to know about and what you don't want them to know about.

Sure, all the information is available somewhere or other, but it's fairly easy to make sure it doesn't become mainstream.
Lady-Light said…
Lost & Found: Correct. The winners decide the history books' tales...

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