left biblioblography: The Worst Name For A Holiday Ever

Sunday, October 07, 2012

The Worst Name For A Holiday Ever

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
ColumbusDay1This Monday marks the worst excuse for an American holiday ever.

I’m talking about one of the major racist assholes the 14th century, that clown who missed his objective by thousands of miles, claimed land for Spain based on skin color and religion, and was an all around douchebag in every sense of the word.

I’m speaking, of course, of Cristoforo Colombo.

Let’s just whip out a few snippets from the wiki, just to fuel the outrage:

Though Columbus was not the first European explorer to reach the Americas (having been preceded by the Norse expedition led by Leif Ericson in the 11th century), Columbus's voyages led to the first lasting European contact with the Americas, inaugurating a period of European exploration, conquest, and colonization that lasted for several centuries. They had, therefore, an enormous impact in the historical development of the modern Western world. Columbus himself saw his accomplishments primarily in the light of the spreading of the Christian religion.

But for a ‘Christian’, he certainly had some terrible ideas about how to treat others:

Columbus called the island (in what is now The Bahamas) San Salvador; the natives called it Guanahani. Exactly which island in the Bahamas this corresponds to is an unresolved topic; prime candidates are Samana Cay, Plana Cays, or San Salvador Island (so named in 1925 in the belief that it was Columbus's San Salvador). The indigenous people he encountered, the Lucayan, Taíno or Arawak, were peaceful and friendly. From the 12 October 1492 entry in his journal he wrote of them, "Many of the men I have seen have scars on their bodies, and when I made signs to them to find out how this happened, they indicated that people from other nearby islands come to San Salvador to capture them; they defend themselves the best they can. I believe that people from the mainland come here to take them as slaves. They ought to make good and skilled servants, for they repeat very quickly whatever we say to them. I think they can very easily be made Christians, for they seem to have no religion. If it pleases our Lord, I will take six of them to Your Highnesses when I depart, in order that they may learn our language." He remarked that their lack of modern weaponry and even metal-forged swords or pikes was a tactical vulnerability, writing, "I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I pleased."

Columbus also explored the northeast coast of Cuba, where he landed on 28 October. On 22 November, Martín Alonso Pinzón took the Pinta on an unauthorized expedition in search of an island called "Babeque" or "Baneque", which the natives had told him was rich in gold. Columbus, for his part, continued to the northern coast of Hispaniola, where he landed on 5 December.

There, the Santa María ran aground on Christmas Day 1492 and had to be abandoned. Columbus was received by the native cacique Guacanagari, who gave him permission to leave some of his men behind. Columbus left 39 men, including Luis de Torres, the Converso interpreter, who spoke Hebrew and Arabic, and founded the settlement of La Navidad at the site of present-day Môle-Saint-Nicolas, Haiti. He kept sailing along the northern coast of Hispaniola with a single ship, until he encountered Pinzón and the Pinta on 6 January.

On 13 January 1493 Columbus made his last stop in the New World. He landed on the Samaná Peninsula where he met the hostile Ciguayos who presented him with his only violent resistance during his first voyage to the Americas. Because of this, and the Ciguayos' use of arrows, he called the inlet where he met them the Bay of Arrows (or Gulf of Arrows). Today the place is called the Bay of Rincón, in Samaná, the Dominican Republic. Columbus kidnapped about 10 to 25 natives and took them back with him (only seven or eight of the native Indians arrived in Spain alive, but they made quite an impression on Seville).

And it is said that a person can be measured by the company they keep:

Michele da Cuneo, Columbus's childhood friend from Savona, sailed with Columbus during the second voyage and wrote: "In my opinion, since Genoa was Genoa, there was never born a man so well equipped and expert in the art of navigation as the said lord Admiral." Columbus named the small island of "Saona ... to honor Michele da Cuneo, his friend from Savona." The same childhood friend reported in a letter that Columbus had provided one of the captured indigenous women to him. He wrote, "While I was in the boat, I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, whom the said Lord Admiral gave to me. 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. But - to cut a long story short - 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 that she had been brought up in a school for whores." This letter has been interpreted by some as providing evidence that Columbus knowingly aided the rape of captured indigenous people.

There is a word for such men – rapist. And yes, Columbo was famous for his penchant of giving native girls to his crew to do as they wished.

And of course, skipping to the more scumbagworthy of his exploits, his governorship and arrest:

Under the terms of the Capitulations of Santa Fe, after his first voyage Columbus was appointed Viceroy and Governor of the Indies, which in practice entailed primarily the administration of the colonies in the island of Hispaniola, whose capital was established in Santo Domingo. By the end of his third voyage, Columbus was physically and mentally exhausted: his body was wracked by arthritis and his eyes by ophthalmia. In October 1499, he sent two ships to Spain, asking the Court of Spain to appoint a royal commissioner to help him govern. By then, accusations of tyranny and incompetence on the part of Columbus had also reached the Court.

The Court appointed Francisco de Bobadilla, a member of the Order of Calatrava, but not as the aide that Columbus had requested. Instead, Bobadilla was given complete control as governor from 1500 until his death in 1502. Arriving in Santo Domingo while Columbus was away, Bobadilla was immediately peppered with complaints about all three Columbus brothers: Christopher, Bartolomé, and Diego. Consuelo Varela, a Spanish historian, states: "Even those who loved him [Columbus] had to admit the atrocities that had taken place."

As a result of these testimonies and without being allowed a word in his own defense, Columbus, upon his return, had manacles placed on his arms and chains on his feet and was cast into prison to await return to Spain. He was 48 years old.

[Snip]

According to an uncatalogued document supposedly discovered very late in history purporting to be a record of Columbus's trial which contained the alleged testimony of 23 witnesses, Columbus regularly used barbaric acts of torture to govern Hispaniola.

[End snip]

His own incompetence and savagery was so vast, that it angered even the Christians of his day (a sorry lot they were, too), and was brought back in chains without the ability to defend himself? This might have provoked outrage in the most sympathetic, excepting that he was one of the hugest bastards in history.

It’s a sorry state of affairs, when any country honors a savage like this. In fact – sign this petition. This monster deserves a footnote at best in the annals of history, but most certainly NOT a day in his alleged ‘honor’.

In fact, I’m somewhat in mind to seek out his grave, and piss on it.

Till the next post, then.

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1 comment:

Tim MacIver said...

Very well written article. However men were and always will be barbaric. Thankfully we have improved *somewhat* over time. However, I think it's unfair to single out Columbus. He was just a man of the time. Everyone else was probably equally as bad or worse. He was just in charge, and in the spotlight. As they say, power corrupts.

Once again, great article, I really enjoyed reading it!

Tim