My early education touted Christopher Columbus as the hero who stumbled upon our land and set events in motion that led to the inevitability of this supposedly great country - the United States of America. Further education revealed that among other things he was not a hero, not even a great man. One who was especially not worthy of honor. He was, in actuality, the single biggest contributing factor that slavery was introduced in this country, but we're going honor him. WTF am I missing?
After understanding his real contribution to our history, I've consistently asked the question - how can a country continue to celebrate Columbus Day knowing who he was, what he did, and especially what he didn't do! He was a despicable human being, and certainly not someone who deserves a federally mandated holiday. I don’t know if you can even call him a human being considering how barbaric he actually was. But since 1937 we have been honoring him with his own personal day based on a skewed retelling of our history.
Many adults, in addition to children in our school system, don't understand the brutalities the Indians and others suffered at the hands of Christopher Columbus. Or understand the spin of those events since then that contribute to their current understanding of our history. It was prettied up to make it more palatable thus justifying it becoming a national holiday. "The worshipful biographical vignettes of Columbus in our textbooks serve to indoctrinate students into a mindless endorsement of colonialism that is strikingly inappropriate in today's post-colonial era." - from Lies My Teacher Told Me. In the spirit of teaching patriotism, Columbus was used and glorified; what we lost in the process was reality. The ugly reality of what he did on this soil.
Our schools would pretend that he contributed so much and is worthy of national praise, our kids being fed bullshit to keep the lie alive; passed on to create the cognitive dissonance that keeps this holiday in place to this day. Just as religion bypasses the horrors in the bible, so does the history being taught in schools with respect to our actual history. The good parts of his life, if there are any, do not wipe out the fact that this was an incredibly brutal and disgusting man.
Let’s stick with the truth and decide more reasonable actions today, shall we? Let’s lose this holiday all together or replace it with something that should absolutely be honored; the Indian Nations who were decimated at the hands of Columbus comes to mind. I’d be all for honoring their culture, recognizing their sacrifices and highlighting the real truth about Columbus’ brutalities. What was lost could be resurrected and given the proper recognition it deserves. National Indian Day, I like the sound of that.
But being honest would mean we’d have to look at our own brutal humanity in the face and accept the fact that our ancestors took violently then what we claim to have today. What we base our great nation on is the terrifying slaughter and enslavement of other human beings. We rose from their ashes, we took their future to cement having our own and it did start with Columbus. It’s disgusting, but it’s the truth and it’s ugly. And it is the reality of our past.
How we act today, what we honor today… that should be about what is and was the best we are or had to offer. And it should be deeply rooted in the truth.
So long as we continue to celebrate Columbus Day, we are doing ourselves a disservice as human beings by recognizing this douche bag as a hero. I won’t do it. I hope you don’t either.
There are several petitions floating around that would like to see our government remove this day from our traditional holidays. Sign one, sign them all. Let's change the conversation to a rational one, and let what we honor reflect what is good about us.
On this holiday, please educate yourself more about this man from our past and then pass on your knowledge to your fellow human beings. Only with the truth and understanding will we have a present and future worth having; it means we're doing it better than who lived before us.