|I'm saddened that we have a Columbus Day
||[Oct. 14th, 2013|07:53 am]
I am, in general, in favor of the European migrations to the New World. After all, my family migrated here over the last 150 years or so, from Eastern Europe, Italy, and probably England, because that's where Osmonds seem to come from. I like this continent. So I don't have the same gut-level repulsion to the European migrations and invasions that a lot of my friends who have more Native blood do. There are horrific parts of it -- the Trail of Tears, the attacks on women and children in the Indian Wars, and most of all the apocalyptic diseases that killed 90% of the population of North America (although that wasn't deliberate, and, for all we know, it MIGHT have been a coincidence that didn't have anything to do with the Europeans). I'd rather be living in a society which was a creole of American Indian and European cultures, but I nonetheless like the fact that Europeans got here.|
But that doesn't mean that I am a fan of Columbus. The thing is that Christopher Columbus was vile even by the standards of imperialist slavers. He was a child-raping, murdering, horrific brutal slaver. I very quickly run out of adjectives and nouns to describe him. Here -- read what The Oatmeal has to say about him: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/columbus_day
My solace is that he has nothing to do with the United States. He's a monster who ravaged the Caribbean, but nothing on the mainland, and certainly nothing in North America. Were there good effects of this? Well, the discovery of the Caribbean DID give an escape route to Jews fleeing from the Spanish Inquisition, so much so that, in some parts of the 16th century Caribbean, "Portuguese" was a code word meaning "hidden Jew". The European colonization of the Caribbean wasn't ENTIRELY bad -- just MOSTLY bad, and Columbus was unimaginably so.
So why do we have an American federal holiday celebrating him? Because the Knights of Columbus, although they did, and do, a lot of good work, are terrible at symbolism. I'm also annoyed at the K of C for jamming "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance, which destroys the entire meaning of it.
The K of C wanted an American Catholic symbol. We've got a LOT of better ones now. Heck, trade in Columbus for JFK and we're better off. The Bay of Pigs is nowhere near as bad as kidnapping ten year old girls and selling them into sexual slavery.
De-idolizing Columbus requires a lot more than just removing or renaming a federal holiday, though. You've also got a big city in Ohio, smaller ones in Indiana and Georgia, a famous university in NYC, a mighty river in the Pacific Northwest, a whole country in South America, a record company, a movie studio ...
... the name of our nation's capital. Yeah. You're totally right. But TODAY, I'm annoyed at the day that it is today.
2013-10-14 03:16 pm (UTC)
We just need to do what King County (WA) did and find another Columbus who's actually worthy of that level of respect, then rename everything for him or her instead. Rufus King? Not any more....
When I looked up Rufus King to see why having a county named after him might be a problem, I was puzzed, because he was prominently opposed to slavery, and appeared unobjectionable in other respects as well
. The other three Rufus Kings that Wikipedia had entries for also appeared to be pretty unobjectionable, and two were actually plausible candidates for having things named after them - one was a Union general, and one received the Medal of Honor in the Civil War.
Then I looked up "King County, WA", and found out that it was named after _William_ Rufus King, who *was* pretty objectionable, because he opposed the abolition of slavery. Still, it looks like if they had wanted to, they could even have kept it named after "Rufus King", and just changed which one they were talking about.
2013-10-14 06:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks; I misremembered which one had been the original source of the county's name. Interesting that there were closer namesakes that were more suitable; I hadn't known that!
I HAVE heard someone wishing people "Oh -- one more thing" for Columbo's Day.
Ah the good 'ol Knights of Columbus. They could use a proper, unbiased, history lesson. Hm if we need a symbolic day to honor a really cool Catholic person, how about Dorothy Day?
While I was an undergrad at UMass Amherst, (the "belly of the beast" for political/social activity), many folks were already campaigning for an "Indigenous Peoples Day" as a replacement for Columbus Day. Of course, the tight-ass, wing-nut students hated them (because they behaved like Communists) and why couldn't these "boring, liberal, f*gg*t, losers" leave well enough alone? I could go on but I think you get the picture.
It just wears me out the way some people need to cling to symbols without wanting to understand the history behind them. So much so that they'll call anyone who doesn't agree with them every name in the book, stick their fingers in their ears and go on their merry way.
Er, didn't Columbus finding there was land in reachable distance, sort of lead to other Europeans coming over and settling?
The legend that says everyone thought the earth was flat and only Columbus got it right and sailed off on his own (like Ellis Wyatt or someone) and found a eucatastrophe -- is a great legend but untrue. Everyone else knew the earth was round but too big for a non-stop voyage to the East Indies. If Teddy Roosevelt had dug the Panama Canal in 1491, Columbus might have restocked, sailed on, and lucked out.
Even as it was, "Try crazy experiments because they may have unexpected payoffs" is not a bad moral for, excuse the term, America.
A more or less spotless Columbus fits the "World is Round" legend. But the "Crazy serendipity" legend doesn't need a moral hero, in fact a Harold Hill fits okay. But really it doesn't need any stinkin hero at all. Better "Everyman, er, everyperson who has the guts to try something, may find something."