Columbus Day is a big deal to me this year and it has nothing to do with Christopher Columbus. My daughter was born on October 12, (bleep) years ago. Happy birthday, sweetheart.
Since about 1970, Columbus day has been on the second Monday of October. My daughter was born on a Sunday and this is only the fifth time since then that her birthday has fallen on Columbus Day.
Celebrated in 46 of our 50 United States - the holdouts being Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon and South Dakota - Columbus Day commemorates the discovery of America by Italian seafarer, Christopher Columbus. While many of us enjoy the day off, the truth is that it's all a bunch of crap.
Support for Columbus Day came from politicians pandering to their growing Italian immigrant constituency.
Let's start at the beginning, though. No one discovered America. The people who lived here were no more lost than Jesus is when some death row inmate says that he discovered him (Jesus, that is).
You can't be found if you were never lost in the first place. What Columbus did is the equivalent of me invading someone's home in Cleveland and then being lauded for discovering Ohio.
Columbus, himself didn't think he discovered anything. He thought that America was part of Asia. Heading for the Indies, Columbus landed in the Bahamas before continuing on to Cuba to search for gold. After that, he hit Haiti and Dominican Republic before returning to Spain.
The West Indies and the people we call Indians were misnamed because Columbus thought he was in downtown Calcutta.
In his defense, this was all way before GPS and Siri.
Even if Columbus actually landed in New York Harbor, he wouldn't have been the first to visit the Americas. Archaeologists have discovered that the Vikings had already been in the neighborhood as early as the 10th Century.
It wasn't until 1501, nine years after Columbus first hit the Bahamas that Amerigo Vespucci discovered that North and South America were actually two distinct continents and separate from Asia. For his discovery, the continents of North and South America were named after Mr. Vespucci.
You're probably thinking that Columbus must have been some pretty great guy to get a holiday all to himself after floundering around the Atlantic Ocean before returning to Spain. You would be wrong about that.
In researching this little piece, I found one group of historians who referred to Mr. Columbus as the ISIS of his time.
In an op-ed published by truth-out.org, Columbus was described as a religious zealot whose conscience was able to justify rape, murder and pillage.
Columbus called the indigenous Taino people of Hispaniola Indians - he thought he was in India - and wrote back to the Spanish monarchs funding his voyage:
“They are well-built, with good bodies and handsome features...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 out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane...They would make fine servants…With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want. Here there are so many of these slaves...although they are living things they are as good as gold...”
Columbus raped, pillaged, enslaved and slaughtered people just to get rich. Small wonder his picture hangs prominently at Koch Brothers' headquarters.
One of Columbus' crewmen, Miguel Cuneo wrote,
“When our caravels…were to leave for Spain, we gathered…one thousand six hundred male and female persons of those Indians…For those who remained, we let it be known [to the Spaniards] in the vicinity that anyone who wanted to take some of them could do so, to the amount desired, which was done.”
Mr. Cuneo had his own sex slave, a beautiful young girl, who, “resisted with all her strength,” forcing him to, “thrash her mercilessly and rape her.”
Columbus ran a global sex trade, shipping off Indian children to lives of slavery around the world. A 10-year old girl could be bought for 100 castellanos. I don't know how much a castellano would be in any of today's currencies, but Columbus collected quite a few of them.
Last year, the city council of Seattle, Washington voted unanimously to celebrate the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples' Day. It is a day that recognizes the contributions of Native Americans, who were here when Christopher Columbus was sailing bars of soap in his mother's wash basin.
They're just lucky that John Gotti wasn't alive to see it.
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