UPDATE: Columbus Day is coming up and that is always the busiest day of the year for this blog post. I would like to offer a disclaimer; I realize the information presented here is one-sided. My goal was to offset some of the hero worship associated with Christopher Columbus. All the good stuff you’ve probably heard before. I simply want informed readers to balance what they already know with these facts, which perhaps you are hearing about for the first time.
As a history teacher, I feel obligated to inform the masses that Columbus was a dirty old man. I’m sure in the fifth grade, your history book had a little painting of Christopher Columbus, all smiles as he met the Native Americans, and they shook hands. We celebrate Columbus Day to recognize his discovery of the New World. Back that tape up in your mind, let me give you some more facts.
In the first place, he was Italian, and we have Americanized his name. How many guys named Christopher come from Italy? Secondly, not only was he not looking for a new world, he refused to believe he had found one. He hoped to get rich by discovering a new trade route to the Indies, and denied the speculation of some in his time that what he had found was a whole new continent. Columbus made a total of 4 passages, and swore on his death bed that we had reached the Indies. Thirdly, and the reason he was on his deathbed, was the syphilis he had contracted from raping Native American women. That’s right, he died of VD.
And what of the legacy he left behind? Spanish missionary Bartoleme de las Casas was on one of Columbus’s subsequent voyages. He describes in vivid detail watching helplessly from on board the ship as 20 hunting greyhounds devoured Native Americans at a rate of about 100 per hour. Later explorers would slaughter hundreds of millions of innocent persons in our “maifest destiny” to claim the New World. (How exactly does one “discover” a new land that has millions of people already living there?) Countless societies in Africa would later be completely devastated by the slave trade. We live in a powerful, prosperous land, that was taken from Native Americans by force and built up on the backs of slave labor. All made possible by our hero, Christopher Columbus. Tell your children that story before bed tonight.