Christopher Columbus has developed a bad reputation over time as an oppressor of people, an abuser of women, the destroyer of a culture.
This story has been slowly transforming the story of Columbus by people who want to influence other people’s opinions about a person who used to be revered as the one person who discovered the American continent which would later become our home.
It seems to me that this is being done, especially, by people with the idea that everyone must fall into some kind of victim status–and as victims, we must have someone to blame.
Worse than blaming poor Columbus–these people and ideas are influencing how the story–or the history–on how Columbus is being taught in schools.
In my childhood we were taught that “in 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the Ocean blue…”, we were taught that thanks to him, Europeans continued to voyage to the Americas . That eventually led to the 13 Colonies that “soon”–in 1783–with the victory of the American Revolution, became the United States of America.
Now students are being told that Columbus and his men deliberately killed native peoples, abused their women and stole their gold–by order, of course of the King and Queen of Spain–King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
Here are a few truths–as I see them. Native Americans did die. The majority died of disease because they were not immune to the viruses that Spaniards brought with them. That is an accident of nature.
They also died from wars, because there were conflicts between the Spanish explorers and the Native Americans. Native Americans, not happy with these new people coming to their lands looking for their gold, attacked them. Spaniards fought back. Many died–on both sides.
Now some Spaniards were also cruel to Natives–who they saw as heathens, because they were not Christian. Remember these explorations are occurring at the same time that the Spanish Inquisition was occuring in Europe–in which scores of people died for their religious beliefs.
As for the abuses hurled on women by the Spaniards. Well, as with every century in every land and every culture–there are abuses. Women are abused by men, men are abused by women. This is not a new phenomenon. This does not make it right–but it certainly was not a new situation, nor is it one which humanity has yet to solve.
These were horrible times in the world–but certainly not the fault of any ONE man.
In hindsight, I think we–as much smarter and humanitarian people of today–should be honest, at least with ourselves, that these new attacks on one person for all the perceived ills on the humanity of the Americas of the 1500s–are ridiculous.
Let the children have a hero in Columbus for doing something good. He was one of the first people from Europe in the Americas.
Keep in mind, if Columbus had not discovered the Americas–certainly someone else would have–and then I’m sure people would be blaming him.
So enjoy Columbus day! Celebrate the courage and innovation of a man and his crew to create progress in their time–so we could enjoy a wonderful country and a day off in ours.