The REAL Christopher Columbus
I meant to put this note together on “Columbus Day”, but I’ve been swamped. I figure you shouldn’t only be able to learn on holidays…
I definitely recommend any book by Howard Zinn to anyone that is interested truly learning about our history, and is not merely satisfied with the propaganda we absorb in everyday life. “A People’s History of the United States” is an eye-opening book he wrote, probably the one in which he received the most acclaim. But today I’m choosing to share an excerpt from “On History”. Zinn uses actual passages from Columbus’s journal. I’ll try to keep it as short as possible:
His journal was revealing. He described the people who greeted him when he landed in the Bahamas- they were Arawak Indians, sometimes called Tainos- and told how they waded out into the sea to greet him and his men, who must have looked and sounded like people from another world, and brought them gifts of various kinds. He described them as peaceable, gentle, and said: “They do not bear arms, and do not know them for I showed them a sword- they took it by the edge and cut themselves.”
Throughout his journal, over the next months, Columbus spoke of the Native Americans with what seemed like admiring awe:
They are the best people in the world and above all the gentlest- without knowledge of what is evil- nor do they murder or steal…they love their neighbors as themselves and have the sweetest talk in the world…always laughing.
And in a letter he wrote to one of his Spanish patrons, Columbus said:
They are simple and honest and exceedingly liberal with all they have, none of them refusing anything he possess when he is asked for it. They exhibit great love toward all others in preference to themselves.
But then, in the midst of all this, in his journal, Columbus writes:
They would make fine servants. With fifty men we could subjugate them and make them do whatever we want.
Yes, this is how Columbus saw the Indians- not as hospitable hosts, but as “servants”, to “do whatever we want.”
And what did Columbus want? This is not hard to determine. In the first two weeks of his journal entries, there is one word that recurrs seventy-five times: GOLD
I urge you all to read the rest of this passage, along with his other works. This is not an attack on any specific group of people, for nobody is responsible for the actions of that man. Nor am I saying that we shouldn’t indulge in a day off or have fun with friends on Columbus Day. I just want people to know what the man was truly about, and generally take more initiative to find truth.
Peace and blessings,