Now let’s not all get up in arms over this title. While to some this holiday represents a day off, being with family, or just some much-needed alone time, others wonder why we may celebrate it at all. As a history buff, I generally feel like knowing the most information about a person whose life you’re celebrating is important. So while I sit here, at work while everyone else has the day off, I am going to reflect on the holiday and what it means for us Americans.
Christopher Columbus, born 1451 in Genoa, was a controversial figure to say the least. Let’s start off by the fact that a man from an Italian province went to work for the Spanish – but hey, we all need jobs wherever we can get them, right? What’s ironic is that he’s most celebrated for the founding of the Americas. But let’s discuss how tenuous this discovery really was. First of all, America is not (I repeat, NOT) India. We don’t grow those spices, and we may in fact be on the opposite side of the world. But I digress, I’ll give Columbus that pass. So when he realized his total and complete error in his JOB of exploration, he had to somehow make up for it. So he usurped the role of discovering America from Leif Ericson (who found it 500 years earlier…got no credit…), and then claimed every piece of land he found as property now belonging to the Spanish.
Not only did he decide that the indigenous peoples of the Americas had nothing to offer the Spanish civilization culturally, but he then was responsible for the mass murders of native Americans wherever he went. Now it’s been brought to my attention (by wikipedia, no less) that Columbus’s great claim to fame was not that he found the Americas first, but that he stayed. HAH. I have to laugh to keep from crying here. I mean, it’s kind of like celebrating Hitler. Now, you may argue that this view is a little extreme – “After all,” you say, “He linked us up with the Europeans, which was pretty awesome.” Yes, and for that the government honors his life by giving everyone (except some unlucky few…) the day off – I suppose to go be like Columbus and kill a few million people with this newly found free time. But. Please don’t. Because as much as he was a horrible man in many situations (and he certainly was eventually found out by the Spanish government), without him, most of us (in fact, almost all of us) wouldn’t be here today. It’s through the people like Columbus, who do all the dirty work, that Great leaders can come in and reap the benefits. No truly great country hasn’t had moments of weakness, war, and destruction in order to keep the lifestyle they see fit.
So while you sit at home, enjoying the beautiful 80 degree weather, the sunshine, and the shopping trips you never have time for, don’t remember Columbus. Instead, remember the good things that came out of such horrible actions – because they are what really matters – besides, he’s dead.
Other Columbus articles
- Columbus Day? True Legacy: Cruelty and Slavery (tipggita32.wordpress.com)
- Columbus’s Legacy Lives Through His Namesakes (onebluestocking.wordpress.com)
- Columbus Day… reconsidered… (cenantua.wordpress.com)