OKAY…….My annual “Columbus was an A-Hole” rant…….definitely skip this, if you think he was a good (or ‘misunderstood’) guy. If that’s your view, this is not going to be fun to read.
For those that follow my history rants, you will know that one of my big rules is that you do not judge people in history using the moral compass of today; it perverts history and by that measure equitably applied will mean that few people will be worth celebrating. Even worse, 100 or 200 years from now, WE will fail this impossible test we created.
That said, before I light the fuse on this rant, I know a number of fans of Christopher Columbus are going to claim I am doing this. I am not, and I explain clearly why. If you think so, you are wrong. Christopher Columbus’ murderous and tyrannical behavior, even back in the late 1400’s, was frowned upon. So, even by the standards of HIS time, he was every bit the horrible human being I argue he is.
Christopher Columbus, the guy who we have schools named after, was not only a homicidal tyrant, but he was a man who for damned sure initiated both the Atlantic slave trade, and the American Indian genocide. But here we are.
So here we go. On Columbus Day, 2021 is upon us, I am going to (for the 5th year in a row) make the case against a holiday celebrating the ten pounds of crap in a 5-pound bag, known as Christopher Columbus.
11 reasons Christopher Columbus was an asshat and shouldn’t have a holiday:
1) He never stepped foot on what is now the United States.
We have very few days on the calendar that warrant a National holiday. We celebrate the beginning of the year, the birth of the first president of the US, those who died keeping us free, the American worker, the day we broke free from England, and so on. Every single one of those days, save the birth of Jesus Christ, has a direct and inarguable connection to the United States (and given our nation is founded on Judeo-Christian values, even JC has a place here). So what the hell are we doing celebrating a guy who never managed to find the entire freaking North American continent?
2) He only ‘discovered’ this place by complete accident, and because it was the broadside of a barn in size.
Chris the idiot-stick thought he had made it to India when he landed. Look, I understand going someplace, getting lost and ending up a few blocks away, or on the wrong side of town. But this is like you were driving from New York to Philadelphia, and ended up in Saskatchewan. He was WAY off.
3) Columbus kidnapped a woman and gave her to his crew members to rape.
This is an actual excerpt from a crewmembers Diary: “While I was in the boat, the Lord Admiral [Columbus] gave to me a captured woman. When I had taken her to my cabin she was naked, as was their custom. I was filled with a desire to take my pleasure with her and attempted to satisfy my desire. She was unwilling, and so treated me with her nails that I wished I had never begun. I then took a piece of rope and whipped her soundly, and she let forth such incredible screams that you would not have believed your ears. Eventually we came to such terms, I assure you, that you would have thought she had been brought up in a school for whores.”
4) On Hispaniola (present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic), a member of Columbus’s crew publicly cut off an Indian’s ears to shock others into submission, with Columbus’ complete support, and against the specific directive of the Spanish crown.
Columbus ordered his men to grab an Indian at random, bring him to the middle of his village, and ‘cut off his ears in retribution for failing to be helpful when fording a stream.’
5) Columbus kidnapped and enslaved more than 1,000 people on Hispaniola.
Columbus ordered 1,500 men and women seized, letting 400 go and condemning 500 to be sent to Spain, with 600 to be enslaved on the island. By the way, 200 of the 500 sent to Spain died on the voyage. He had done this without the permission of the King of Spain, which was required.
6) Columbus forced Indians to collect gold for him or else die.
Columbus ordered every Indian over 14 to give a set-amount of gold to the Spanish, and if they didn’t, he had them killed. In a moment of benevolence, for those in areas without much, they could give cotton instead (so nice).
7) He was so brutal, estimates are that about 50,000 Indians committed mass suicide rather than comply.
Indians on Hispaniola destroyed their stores of bread, plunged off cliffs, poisoned themselves and starved themselves to death. Multiple studies estimate that about a half century after Columbus first arrived, only 500 out of 300,000 Indians remained on Hispaniola.
According to written records from the accountants for the King of Spain, In 1508, the population was down to 60,000. By 1548, it was estimated to be only 500.
9) Spanish colonists hated him.
Bartolomé de las Casas was a Spanish colonist who became a social reformer. He wrote extensively about Columbus’ tyranny, from first-hand experience. He wrote about the first decades of colonization of the West Indies. As a result, we know that Columbus’s rule over Spanish settlers was also brutal. Once he ordered a dozen Spaniards “to be whipped in public, tied by the neck, and bound together by the feet” for trading gold for food to avoid starvation.
A woman at one point criticized him and his dirt-bag brother, and Columbus ordered her tongue cut out. A man named Juan Moreno received a hundred lashes for failing to gather enough food for Columbus’s personal pantry. For comparison, even in South Carolina in the 1800’s during slavery, it was illegal to whip slaves more than 20 times.
10) Columbus allowed the sale of 9- and 10-year-old girls into sexual slavery, which was forbidden by the King of Spain.
In his own diary, he wrote extensively about it. Here’s one comment: “There are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand, and for all ages a good price must be paid.”
11) He was charged by the Spanish crown with crimes for his brutality.
In 1498, colonists had staged a revolt against Columbus and his brothers. Spanish authorities had to send a new governor to take over, and Christopher Columbus was arrested and returned to Spain in chains. He was cleared of the most serious charges, but he was stripped of his noble titles and his pension from the crown was rescinded.
This is Columbus people. A guy who was, even by the standards of HIS OWN ERA, a brutal and tyrannical human being. He has nothing whatsoever to do with the United States, other than establishing the slave trade that we adopted. Why we have dedicated a day for him, is beyond my ability to comprehend.