Happy Columbus Day! Or not.


when, exactly, did we start teaching American history truthfully?
Meh. Plenty of holidays have dark histories. Like christmas.

The important point isn't to dwell on the past... the important point is to go buy something.
I read a biography of Columbus about 20 years ago--I think the book felt that Columbus was worthy of our admiration, but it described him as having a sense of righteousness and destiny that made me think of Oliver North.
And anyway, they do all sorts of crazy shit in Philadelphia.

Who actually celebrates Columbus Day? It's simply a day to be off from work. I don't even know if the schools close down. In Canada, it's Thanksgiving Day.
Someone sure as hell needed to make good use of this continent and it wasn't going to be the Indians.
@ 1 We did in my HS
We have a tendency to find something to celebrate even in the worst of situations. We can celebrate valor and bravery in the midst of warfare, even as we damn warfare itself for the horror that it is.

We can celebrate Columbus' bravery and desire to learn and explore, even as we understand that his voyage led to massive genocide and in the end was a horror visited upon lots of people.

Not really taking a side, just an observation. Most schools and businesses do not close for Columbus Day anyway, and it generally is a pretty uncelebrated holiday. Take solace in the fact that MLK Day is observed in this country to a much greater degree.
I have no idea if Denver ever took Columbus Day off or not. I know we never got that day off when I was in school. And while we're not Philadelphia or any other northeast city, we did have a significant Italian community here.

Anyway, we have a parade that's usually counterprotested by AIM types and wannabes. In the 90s, they threatened to devolve into riots but never got that bad. The KKK-vs-everyone-else MLK Day shit was a lot more exciting.
"It took balls to do what he did"? Why? not because "everybody" thought the world was flat and they would fall off. every educated person at the time knew that the world was round, Eratosthenes had made a fairly accurate measurement of the Earth's circumference (at the Equator) in 200BCE.

The Norse had arrived in North America by 1100CE,

Columbus's great "contribution"? he claimed that India was approximately 2500 miles west of Spain, and every competent navigator at the time placed the distance six times as far (give or take)

But on the other hand if I'm on articles when Columbus day rolls around it is a contracted holiday, so I do get overtime just for showing up, so that's good, but then so are Caesar Chavez's Birthday and King Kamehameha day.

The best way to solve this would be to end Columbus Day and instead make Joe Hill's birthday (7OCT) a holiday
Yes, because Indians NEVER slaughtered their opponents and enslave other tribes. Never. They all lived in peace and harmony until whitey came along.

I don't apologize for Europe's success in science and human progress. You all want be hunter gatherers, be my guests.
Goldy, I'm wondering if you would interpret Bush II's presidency as also having "balls." Sure, it took "balls" to invade Afghanistan, Iraq, spending trillions of dollars, at the same time as cutting revenues.

Or you could call it delusional stupidity. Which is what Columbus had. The shape & circumference of the earth had been worked out by Greek mathematicians centuries before Christ, and every naval officer in Europe had access to this information. Only the peasants thought the world was flat, and since they weren't going anywhere, who cared what they thought? Columbus was an idiot in that he rejected that math (which was highly accurate, btw), and was convinced on his deathbed that he had landed near the Asian continent when all empirical evidence pointed to the fact that he was wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong. It's not called "Colombia," it's called "America," after the person who said the obvious, This is a new continent(s), Amerigo Vespucci.

Columbus was also a monomaniacal, greedy & sadistic asshole. And so what do people actually do on a holiday that celebrates such a man? Well, emulating him certainly goes against the grain of what a "holiday" is all about, soo... you don't do a whole heckuva lot. Because, there's not much to celebrate, besides having the day off.
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving period
Whiny White-Guilt Liberals cry 'genocide'.

boo hoo.

Darwin calls it 'what happens when an inferior culture gets in the way of progress'.


and @11 nails it;
those same Whiny White-Guilt Liberals romantisize Indian (they were not 'native'; they just arrived before the Europeans...) culture, they overlook (or are willfully ignorant of) the savage brutality and cruelty that marked those cultures.....
I'm a South Dakota native. In 1989, the SD state legislature unanimously passed legislature declaring the second Monday in October to be Native Americans' Day. I was 6 at the time, so I grew up with it. I didn't actually realize until today that it was unique to South Dakota.

I'm not always proud of my home state, but I am today.
Thank you, Will!
Ben: I didn't know that, and I probably should've as a former Manitoban and therefore South Dakota near-neighbour. That's great!
Leif Ericson Day. Screw Columbus.
The Native Americans had mostly been decimated by diseases from South America (brought by Cortez and other explorers) by the time North America was being colonized by the Europeans. The wars against Native Americans would have been a lot tougher otherwise.

Also, @14, yes, they were "Native" Americans just as much as Europeans were "Native" Europeans (having arrived in Europe from the fertile crescent).

Also also @11 & 14, Native American's culture was inferior only because they arrived in North America later, and started with fewer resources, than Europeans had. If North America had not been invaded by Europeans, the Native Americans would have eventually reached the same levels of civilization.

They were not an "inferior" culture, just a younger one with fewer resources.

Oh, and "savage brutality and cruelty?" That's not exclusive to Native Americans. Read about world history and you'll find savage brutality and cruelty in almost every culture that's ever existed. Yes, including Europeans.
Oh. Jeebus. This shit again.

I'm all for reaching accurate history but quit pretending you give a shit about "genocide" that happened over 100 years ago, because you really don't. If you did you'd spend more than one day a year ironically lamenting the injustice to first peoples.

Speaking as a bona fide "native" if it pains you all to guilt trip over this shit so much every year... then fucking leave. There are plenty of places where you white people belong. So go there.

Otherwise how about maybe doing something about first people's issues TODAY! Nowhere is there an article about Native American issues TODAY in this or any other paper.

Sure. Columbus wasn't a hero. But Goldy is right: you might as well give your conquerors some props. You wouldn't have this sweet real-estate without them.

I'm sure my grandmothers people killed, raped and displaced somebody in Wyoming and the Dakotas and if we remembered their names, I'm sure we'd have a picnic or two in their honor.

Despite a couple of goofy parades nobody really "celebrates" Columbus day. It's a day off. That's all. 90% of the people watching the parade in New York or taking the day off don't know shit about Columbus one way or the other. He's an absurd myth for children. Like Santa Claus.

Besides it's not as if North and South America were going to sit here un-exploited by Europe if wasn't for that dastardly Columbus. It was a forgone conclusion.

And you can bet if my grandmothers ancestors had the math, the steel, and the gunpowder, before Europeans — they would have sailed east and exploited and slaughtered the shit out of you all.
How many screaming 'genicide' here are going to give all their shit, house and car keys to an Indian in Steinbrueck Park today and move back to Europe? Oh that's right, none.
@10 Yeah, it took balls to set off on that first journey. It wasn't that most of his peers thought the Earth was flat, it was that they thought it was BIGGER than Columbus did. (And they were right.) There was more reason to bet against Columbus' survival than for it.
Columbus was actually a pretty enlightened guy in his day. For all of you who are so certain that people 500 years from now will be any better, feel free to cast the first stone. For the rest of you, STFU.
"Native Americans would have eventually reached the same levels of civilization".

Or not. Jared Diamond never made that conclusion.

Personally I'm proud of Western civilization and all the wealth and longevity it has given us. Some hiccups along the way? Sure, but mistakes are common to all civilizations, success to but a few.

A life expectancy of 30, scavenging for food, livinv in tents/huts/caves and living in constant fear of death isn't, quite frankly, my cup of tea.
Sorry. Make that "will judge you any better." The BlackBerry had a brain fart.
@22: Isn't that kind of like saying that it would take courage to walk across Death Valley with only one quart of water because you believe that it's only about half a mile across?

I'm still for making this Joe Hill Day.
Here's the difference @14:

Indigenous tribes in the America's did engage in these practices just as you say; as has essentially EVERY tribal grouping since the beginning of tribalism. We're still doing it today (and by "we" I also mean "us"). So, we're all pretty much even on that score.

But, mid-Second Millennium Europeans like Columbus and Cortez didn't attempt to exterminate the natives here out of any sense of imminent threat to their culture or social group; why, the very idea itself would have been ludicrous to them.

No, they did it for a much more civilized purpose: they did it for the money.

Basically, Europeans came over, saw a large population of potential new slave laborers, who in addition possessed a few shiny trinkets, decided the place was awash not just with human labor, but also with gold and silver, and systematically set out to take all of it for themselves.

Furthermore, Columbus wasn't beneath cheating his own people if he thought it would keep a little more coin in his pocket. The story of his reneging on a promise to pay a lifetime pension to the first sailor who sighted land is just one well-documented example, as is his treatment of his fellow Spanish immigrants during his tenure as Governor of Santo Domingo.

The point being: Columbus was a greedy, vain, conniving asshole long before he set foot in the Bahamas...
No argument there. I'm also glad to be living at the level of civilization we have today.

I am saying, though, that it's not a matter of Europeans being "superior" and Native Americans being "inferior." Europeans simply had the fortune to stumble upon a better basket of goods (e.g., food, animals, climate, etc.) to draw from to help them conquer the world.

But since you're referencing Diamond, I'm guessing none of this is new information to you. Also, I'm fairly certain Diamond DID conclude that Native Americans would have arrived at the same levels of technology and civilization, if given roughly the same amount of time, as Europeans did if they had been left alone to do so.
@24: So you think the U.S, should be more like Japan, Iceland, Australia, Singapore, Sweden, France Canada, UK, New Zealand, Norway, Austria, The Netherlands, Greece, Belgium, Germany, Finland, Denmark or Cuba because they all have longer life expectancies than the U.S. (interesting to note that all of those countries have socialized medicine)
Today I'm planning on walking into Bill Gates house and claiming it for Canada.

Might have to leave a few blankets to clear out the undesirables first, mind you.
"So you think the U.S…"

Where did I mention the US? It didn't exist in 1492. Nice red herring though.

@29 Besides, I believe you should be comparing life expectancy in the US with people living in the jungles of the Congo, Amazon and Papua New Guinea, not other nations that have followed western patterns of development and achieved amazing levels of wealth, freedom and prosperity, never seen in human history. You're statistical talking differences of a few years, I'm talking decades. I'm talking all of Western civilization. and those nations, like Japan and South Korea, that have followed our model of regulated, but relatively free market capitalism.

Thanks for playing, you just confirmed my argument, that western civilization has delivered the most prosperous nations on the planet (excluding that basket case ruled by dictators, Cuba, where you get to live in poverty to 75 or flee).
As a sailor, I find it funny that Columbus's bravery is being debated in context of whether the Earth was round or not.

Anybody who's skippered a boat to go anywhere can tell you that it takes a lot of bravery, knowledge, and skill to navigate someplace new. No charts, no radios, no GPS, and their boats could barely sail to weather.
@31: Asia had higher life expectancies than the western world long before the 20TH century.

But yes European values like socialism do add to life expectancy, so you're all in favor of that correct?
"Personally I'm proud of Western civilization and all the wealth and longevity it has given us. Some hiccups along the way?"

Yeah, like it's total imminent collapse. Yep, minor bumps in the road. Or "headwinds."

And don't forget he made Columbus Circle in New York!
What socialist countries in Europe? Having grown up in one, I'm not sure what you mean. What I see are free, capitalist nations with a smattering of collectivism, like we have with social security and Medicare and Medicaid.

Imminent collapse? How cute. Say hi to Alex Jones.
@33 btw, all u describe is still better than being a hunter gatherer!
Yes, western civilization has produced the most prosperous nations on the planet, but how did you come up with "regulated, but relatively free market capitalism" as the cause?

Many of those "westernized" nations were essentially monarchies (or plutarchies or military dictatorships) and didn't truly become free market, capitalist societies until around WWI, long after those countries had already established their dominant place in the world.
@38 the seeds of our freedom and prosperity were planted in the Renaissance, Reformation and Englightenment, which happened only in the West. Civilization may have started in Africa and the Mideast first, but it also stopped there first. I feel no shame in my western and Anglo Saxon heritage unlike these whiny, bourgeois angry white kids on slog who hate their parents as much as their cultural legacies.

Thanks for proving you're still just as much of a dick today as you were 500 years ago...
@23 "Columbus was actually a pretty enlightened guy in his day."

Um, no. He wasn't. If you want to argue that he was *no better* than the average schmuck, I'm with ya there. But to say he was "pretty enlightened" by 15th C. standards is patently absurd. There were many people who were quite shocked at CC's greed & rapacity.

Of course moral standards shift throughout history. This discussion is on whether CC deserves a holiday or not. We tend to honor people whose moral outlook was much higher than those of his fellow humans. People like MLK, Washington. This isn't about setting some absolute standard & judging historical people against it.

Your arrogant vulgarity is duly noted, although it says a lot more about your own small mindedness than anything else.

*There were many of CC's contemporaries who were quite shocked of his...

* ...than those of their contemporaries.
"Thanks for proving you're still just as much of a dick today as you were 500 years ago…"

Well, next time you get the clap, go get an African witch doctor or Chinese herbalist to cure you. Clearly, science, freedom and penicillin are wasted on you.

I read Diamond a couple of years ago. As I recall, he talked a great deal about the absence of "beasts of burden" (cows and horses) in the Americas. Certainly that was the case with the Inca, who didn't invent the wheel because they didn't have animals that could pull a cart or a plow, or even be ridden. All they had were llamas -- too small, too ornery.

Would it have been possible to domesticate the bison? Diamond doesn't think so, but maybe he is wrong. I believe it's been attempted, without success. Apparently, there's an uncrossable genetic barrier between the European and Asian genera/species of bovines and the North American ones, a barrier between those which can be domesticated and those that can't.
I don't feel any particular shame about my heritage either. Nevertheless, I do realize that the domination of western culture was due more to the luck of the draw than anything else (the cradle of civilization didn't produce superior genes/intellect/ability... it simply provided superior resources). The renaissance et al. that you mention occurred in the 15th century and later. Sure, it was a long time ago, still, it took place in countries that were already dominant. To say those were the seeds of prosperity seems... inappropriate? Likewise, saying that civilization stopped in Africa and the Mideast seems inappropriate. Some of the world's greatest art, architecture, mathemathics, and philosophy arose from countries in those areas. Perhaps civilization would have prospered more there if they hadn't been constantly invaded, pillaged, and overthrown?

I don't know, I just think it's much more than simple "western values" that have made the U.S., Europe, and their associated colonies the powerhouses they are today.

the motivation and effects of the Catholic colonizers differed markedly from that of the Protestant nations.

the settlement of the United States sprang from a great yearning and seeking for liberty; religious and economic- the North American tribes just were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

the experience of Latin America was very different, tragically for them.