On Monday, October 14th, the nation will be honoring Christopher Columbus' achievements, which include starting up the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Now, isn't that a fantastic holiday to celebrate?
But wait, there's more! He was so kind to all of the locals on the island that he "discovered." He repaid their welcoming with murder, psychological torture, and enabling pedophiles by "liberating" their 9 and 10 year old girls.
Many people have written about Columbus' atrocities. Most recently, Matthew Inman, of The Oatmeal, created this infographic/comic. Take your time while scrolling through the whole thing. And when you get to the end, you'll realize that he wasn't just complaining. He offered up a fantastic suggestion for a change.
Bartolome de las Casas, who made it to the same island as Christopher Columbus as one of the early European settlers. He even pulled a Columbus and was brutal to the Native Americans there, and helped start up the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, just like Columbus. Bartolome didn't let becoming a priest stop him from treating slaves and the Natives cruelly. (The Oatmeal comic made an error--he was a priest committing atrocities before he finally came around.)
Unlike Columbus, Bartolome experienced a radical change. Who says that sermons are just for sleeping through? Sometimes there's good messages in there. When a Dominican friar priest condemned most of the European settlers for genocide, Bartolome listened.
It's got to have been hard to be blamed for genocide. Most of us squirm in our seats when priests talk about caring for the poor. But effing genocide? Even though he listened, he argued and complained and helped get the Dominicans sent away.
The seeds were still planted in his brain, and gradually took root. After participating in and witnessing the Cuban conquest (in which the Europeans unsurprisingly were brutal), he realized that the system of brutal colonization was inhumane. Something had to give, so he started working for the next 50 years to protect the Natives and to stop the stupid European thugs from being thuggish.
He became one of the first advocates for universal human rights. All people are humans, and equally deserving of life and liberty, according to Bartolome.
So, of the two conquerors of the "West Indies," which one would you support? The guy who left a legacy of destruction, or the guy who saw the errors of his ways and spent the rest of his life trying to fix it?
Yes, Bartolome originally advocated bringing in slaves from Africa, but he later recanted even that, because it was still inhumane. Did Columbus ever recant?
What say you? If not Bartolome, then who? I look forward to your suggestions!
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