Columbus Day 2012

I guess I’ve gotten to the point that I find it an overreach to blame the near genocide of a people on Christopher Columbus.

Ever since I was old enough to discern things independently of what my teachers taught me, I’ve been utterly fascinated by Columbus Day. This piece notes that Columbus Day has been celebrated in the United States as early as 1792.

From Time and Date:
“Columbus Day celebrations are controversial because the settlement of Europeans in the Americas led to the deaths of a very large proportion of the native people. It has been argued that this was a direct result of Columbus’ actions. It is clear that the arrival of the European settlers led to the demise of a large proportion of the history and culture of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

It has also been argued that Columbus should not be honored for discovering the United States, as he only went as far as some islands in the Caribbean and never got as far as mainland America.”

Not to mention that whole Leif Erikson thing.

I guess I’ve gotten to the point that I find it an overreach to blame the near genocide of a people on this one guy. At the same time, his bravery going out in the unknown, traveling west to find the East, was still a gutsy act and seems to have gotten lost in the discussion. Guess I’m looking for a more nuanced approach to Columbus, such as in this Biography piece. Or we can just accept Columbus Day as part of a three-day weekend and let it go at that.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

3 thoughts on “Columbus Day 2012”

  1. Columbus was known to hang out at the Lisbon docks talking to fisherman, presumably they told him of the St. Georges Bank and the seasonal fish and whale processing station in Labrador that they had been using since the 1300s. Columbus must have decided that they had landed in India. Next thing you know Columbus concocted a bad science theory that the world was only 12000 miles around rather than the correct 25,000 that European scientists of the day had figured out… but had not proved. He then peddled his nutsy theory to crowned heads. The rest is history.

    I read this account some 20 years ago or so, and I can’t find citations online. I also read about the Labrador whaling station in Natural History magazine some 15 years ago. Can’t find any of that either. So you’ll have to take my word.

  2. Europeans are to blame for many genocides all over the world. Australia also suffered from the invasion of Europeans. The Aborigines still bear the scars of the treatment they got from the British. Why is it that we think that when we invade a country we have to change the lifestyle of the indigenous people? Instead of watch their traditions respectfully.
    Thanks for your visit. Israel Day is only observed in some Dutch churches. And my church is one of them.

  3. My husband, being a federal employee, is all about the 3-day weekend scenario, and he’s all for celebrating anybody/anything to make one happen! More seriously, though, I have to agree that laying the blame for all of the bad things to come on poor Columbus is just a bit much.

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