Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.

10/10/2005

Columbus Day

Various wingnuts are engaging in a Columbus Day tradition - i.e., taking the opportunity to bash the multi-cultural Left for demonizing the explorer. E.g. Blogs for Bush:
In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue - and brought to the Americas a bunch of racist, sexist, homophobic bigots who only came here to rape, loot and murder. Or, so goes the modern leftwing litany about Columbus and the discovery of America...heck, they don't even want to call it "discovery", as that smacks of white supremacist ideology...the left prefers "encounter"...as if the natives of America would have sailed east if just given enough time.

...it was an heroic endevour on the part of Columbus and his crews - sailing off into the west when they (a) weren't sure how large the Earth was, (b) could not accurately calculate longitude and (c) doing it in boats which were quite tiny.

Heroism has no place in the modern leftwing worldview - rather than viewing Columbus and his cohorts as just men who were daring to do what had not been done, the left chooses to view them as the deliberate effort on the part of Europeans to kill and destroy. We're supposed to hate Columbus because, well, because I don't know...I just can't wrap my mind around leftwing idiocy on the subject. It really is just too stupid for me to grasp.
Josh Buermann gives wingnutters a history lesson, linking to a piece by Howard Zinn:
The Indians, Columbus reported, "are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone...." He concluded his report by asking for a little help from their Majesties, and in return he would bring them from his next voyage "as much gold as they need . . . and as many slaves as they ask."

...from his base on Haiti, Columbus sent expedition after expedition into the interior. They found no gold fields, but had to fill up the ships returning to Spain with some kind of dividend. In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships. Of those five hundred, two hundred died en route. The rest arrived alive in Spain and were put up for sale by the archdeacon of the town, who reported that, although the slaves were "naked as the day they were born," they showed "no more embarrassment than animals." Columbus later wrote: "Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold."

...In the province of Cicao on Haiti, where he and his men imagined huge gold fields to exist, they ordered all persons fourteen years or older to collect a certain quantity of gold every three months. When they brought it, they were given copper tokens to hang around their necks. Indians found without a copper token had their hands cut off and bled to death.

The Indians had been given an impossible task. The only gold around was bits of dust garnered from the streams. So they fled, were hunted down with dogs, and were killed.

Trying to put together an army of resistance, the Arawaks faced Spaniards who had armor, muskets, swords, horses. When the Spaniards took prisoners they hanged them or burned them to death. Among the Arawaks, mass suicides began, with cassava poison. Infants were killed to save them from the Spaniards. In two years, through murder, mutilation, or suicide, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead.

When it became clear that there was no gold left, the Indians were taken as slave labor on huge estates, known later as encomiendas. They were worked at a ferocious pace, and died by the thousands. By the year 1515, there were perhaps fifty thousand Indians left. By 1550, there were five hundred. A report of the year 1650 shows none of the original Arawaks or their descendants left on the island.

...Total control led to total cruelty. The Spaniards "thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades." Las Casas tells how "two of these so-called Christians met two Indian boys one day, each carrying a parrot; they took the parrots and for fun beheaded the boys."

...Thus began the history, five hundred years ago, of the European invasion of the Indian settlements in the Americas. That beginning ... is conquest, slavery, death. When we read the history books given to children in the United States, it all starts with heroic adventure-there is no bloodshed-and Columbus Day is a celebration.

...The treatment of heroes (Columbus) and their victims (the Arawaks) the quiet acceptance of conquest and murder in the name of progress-is only one aspect of a certain approach to history, in which the past is told from the point of view of governments, conquerors, diplomats, leaders.
It's not being overly "politically correct" to simply acknowledge facts. But those who would whitewash Columbus as a "hero" find these facts inconvenient, and thus they ignore them.

Come to think of it, this is something of a modus operandi of theirs...

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