"We shall take you and your wives, and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault ." - Christopher Columbus.
As America, and perhaps other like-minded nations around the world, get ready to celebrate another “Columbus Day” with fanfare and festivities perhaps the greatest informational hustle of all time is again set to be visited upon a largely gullible populace whose mental conditioning now fashions Christopher Columbus as a benevolent, swashbuckling European adventurer who “discovered the New World.”
So much good has been credited to this man that the mountain of evil has all been covered over, sanitized and washed clean by years of selective facts, induced fiction and outright lies.
That such a portrait continues to exist today and remains a solidly pervasive rendering for many is testament to the constant re-packaging, enabling and embellishing of a sordid historical past that has been obfuscated in many history books. Indeed, the above statement clearly demonstrates that Christopher Columbus was a vicious, brutal man who many historians accuse of committing unspeakable acts of genocide. Here is what some leading scholars and intellectuals have had to say bout him.
- "Columbus makes Hitler look like a juvenile delinquent," asserts American Indian activist Russell Means.
- Winona LaDuke deplores "the biological, technological, and ecological invasion that began with Columbus' ill-fated voyage five hundred years ago."
- The National Council of Churches declares the anniversary of Columbus "not a time for celebration" but for "reflection and repentance" in which whites must acknowledge a continuing history of "oppression, degradation, and genocide."
- Historian Glenn Morris accuses Columbus of being "a murderer, a rapist, the architect of a policy of genocide that continues today."
- "Could it be that the human calamity caused by the arrival of Columbus," African-American writer Ishmael Reed asks, "was a sort of dress rehearsal of what is to come as the ozone becomes more depleted, the earth warms, and the rain forests are destroyed?"
- "All of us have been socialized to be racists and benefit from racism constantly," Christine Slater laments in the journal Multicultural Education. "The very locations on which our homes rest should rightfully belong to Indian nations."
- Literary scholar Stephen Greenblatt alleges that Columbus "inaugurated the greatest experiment in political, economic, and cultural cannibalism in the history of the Western world."
Of course, there are many who see Columbus differently and consider him a brave sea-fearing pioneer who discovered the New World for the king and queen of Spain. But in the face of irrefutable historical evidence and facts their support become suspect. For example, the often quoted fallacy that Columbus “discovered America” has been put to rest since the first European contacts with the New World was made by the Vikings – 500 years before Columbus. And he never discovered that the earth was round that fact was already near common knowledge years before he set sail on his first voyage.
And in his book “They Came Before Columbus” historical scholar Ivan Van Sertima details a compelling, dramatic and well-researched work that builds a body of evidence proving that Africans were in America centuries before Columbus. Combining impressive scholarship with a novelist’s gift for storytelling, Van Sertima re-creates some of the most powerful scenes of human history: the launching of the great ships of Mali in 1310 (two hundred master boats and two hundred supply boats), the sea expedition of the Mandingo king in 1311, and many others. In They Came Before Columbus, we see clearly the unmistakable face and handprint of black Africans in pre-Columbian America, and their overwhelming impact on the civilizations they encountered.
There is no record of those Africans enslaving, murdering or raping the indigenous American Indians that they encountered in America. Indeed, the arrival of Columbus, a slave trader, mercenary and thief in the New World ushered in a process of mass enslavement, killing for sport and recreation, and a genocide that took the lives of over a million people. In less than 40 years after the coming of Christopher Columbus the indigenous peoples of the Americas were all but wiped out by new diseases, mass murder and a brutality still unsurpassed in the annals of history.
In fact, the first European of note to set foot on American soil was the Italian explorer John Cabot who arrived here in 1497 while good ole Chris was still searching for India in the Caribbean. After three voyages to the Americas Christopher Columbus still believed that Cuba was part of Asia, South America was an island, and the coast of Central America was part of the Ganges River. Such ignorance is hilarious.
On the “celebration of Columbus Day” the reality of today is that the remaining American Indians lack adequate healthcare and housing, receive pitiful education, face daunting barriers to economic opportunity, and see their lands (that would be the whole of the continent) overrun with pollution and big business. The same is true of the indigenous peoples of South America who suffer governmental indifference and social neglect.
Yet today many so-called “informed and educated” people still believe the lies and exaggerations that make up the Columbus story. Even the United States Congress bought into the myths and named a national holiday after a man whose behavior and actions still hold serious racist and brutal conquistadorial implications for the sensitivities of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Over the years lies about Columbus have become facts and history textbooks have created a man of mythical proportions. Paintings depict him as a benevolent explorer that befriended Native people he encountered. Without presenting the negative aspects of Columbus and other historical figures, they have become "heroified," and we are presented with a person that did not make any mistakes, or commit any wrong acts.
But the fact is because Columbus captured more Indian slaves than he could transport to Spain in his small ships, he put them to work in mines and plantations which he, his family, and followers created throughout the Caribbean. His marauding band hunted Indians for sport and profit — beating, raping, torturing, killing, and then using the Indian bodies as food for their hunting dogs. Within four years of Columbus' arrival on Hispaniola, his men had killed or exported one-third of the original Indian population of 300,000.
Today, 500 years later, Christopher Columbus remains an enigmatic historical figure. His actions did open up new trading and developmental opportunities for the more technologically advanced Europeans. With guns, brutality and a mission to seize these lands in the name of the king and queen of Spain and with the blessings of the Roman Catholic Church, Christopher Columbus believed that the “savage” Indians were inferior to the worst white European and therefore could be exploited, brutalized and raped as part of “their civilizing mission.”
With the Bible in one hand and the sword or musket in the other Christopher Columbus turned against his gentle hosts and seized lands and riches that were not his own. In so doing he distinguished himself as just another petty buccaneer, a thieving mercenary and pirate who by sheer terror and brutality and superior weaponry was able to cause the subjugation of a people who welcome these stranger to their shores and homes. This is the person that Americans glorify on Columbus Day.