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Christopher Columbus: Hero or Tyrant?

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  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    Columbus Day is one of those holiday's that makes me wonder why we have individuals that willfully ignore history and facts deciding what constitutes a national holiday. Instead of honoring the indigenous individuals that inhabited what is now known as the Bahamas and Hispaniola, politicians decided that a man responsible for the murder and enslavement of hundreds of thousands should be the one being honored. Instead of mourning for those that were slaughtered, we honor the man responsible for it.

    Columbus Day is a national holiday that shouldn't be so. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared Columbus Day as a national holiday in 1937, during the height of the Great Depression that was spreading devastation throughout America. President Roosevelt was heavily lobbied by Italian Americans, a burgeoning voting bloc in the major cities of the United States, to unilaterally declare Columbus Day as a Federal Holiday. Many states quickly followed with State Holidays honoring Columbus without much thought as to why they were honoring such a person.

    As the years have gone on and more information has come to light about Columbus, I feel that it is high time to reconsider honoring this man at all. He didn't "discover" anything other than a peaceful indigenous population that he decimated in the name of profit. He also didn't prove that the world wasn't flat. That was proven by Pythagoras in the 6th Century B.C. and subsequently written about by multiple other early scientists. There is no doubt that Columbus knew this before he set sail, so I ask what we are even celebrating? In fact, pretty much each and every thing that school children were taught about Columbus was a stretching of the truth if not an outright lie.

    Does anyone believe that a national holiday is justified in honoring Christopher Columbus? Am I missing something that he should be celebrated for?
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    I think everything is politics, as you said if it wasn't for the lobbying efforts of the Italian-Americans there would not be a holiday, never mind what the man did or didn't do, instead focus on what makes an ordinary day a National Day of Observance signified by not working and getting paid for most Americans, the event ,I think ,should be dramatic enough to affect the Nation as a whole, it goes without saying that this Nation was not going to exist for almost 200 + plus years after he found someplace that wasn't lost to begin with, rather than that he was the one who was lost, given that, lets look at some people and events that were dramatic to our Nation, President's Jefferson & Madison, whose writings were directly responsible for our constitution and it's subsequent affect on this fledging Nation. No National Holidays for them, Lewis & Clark and with the help of the Native Americans, went on an exploration journey regardless of the dangers that they would face plus so many unknown factors , all for opening this new frontier for settlement, this also had a profound affect on this Nation. Again no National Holiday for them either, another one is the entire Industrial Period of this Nation where most of the mechanical inventions were created that catapulted this Nation onto the World's Economic stage in record time, no National holiday for those events either, no, our so-called holidays are reserved for those who actions on the political front caused them to be slain,not forgetting the memory of honoring of certain military personal and events that gained for this Nation a greater respect and honor from the other World leaders which they earned with their lives and personal sacrifice ,this is why I feel these holidays are nothing more than an appeasement for certain lobbyist's.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Hey, we have President's Day, and Memorial Day, and Independence Day, and Labor Day, and Veterans Day, and Martin Luther King Day, and Thanksgiving Day...

    and the British have May Day and a Spring Bank Holiday and a Fall Bank Holiday in addition to Boxing Day.

    But we also have unpaid commemorative days like Valentine's Day, Hug Day, April Fools Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Flag Day, Halloween, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick's Day, St Urho's Day, Darwin Day, Pi Day, and Earth Day.

    We even have World Population Day on July 11th and my favorite...World Contraception Day on September 26th...to give thanks for contraception.

    Ha.

    Sorry Jared...I know this doesn't address your question. I'm okay with a commemorative day for Columbus but not a paid holiday.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Denton, TX
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    Columbus exploited the natives, ravaged their land, and sold natives into slavery (including making 9-10 year old girls sex slaves then using them to reward people loyal to him). He was so consumed with greed that the search for gold blinded him to the fact the he smacked in to a whole other land mass. He died thinking it was India. He didn't discover it as people have been there for 30,000 years and Leif Erickson made many trips to North America. The only thing that the voyage marks is an entrance into a new era. However, we celebrate this awful man, who has zero redeeming qualities, with a national holiday. That puts him on the same level as MLK or our Presidents.

    So no, this guy should not be honored.
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    After taking some time to read more about Christopher Columbus, I retract my statement that he be in any way honored with a commemorative holiday.

    Huffington Post: Columbus Day? True Legacy: Cruelty and Slavery

    A few extracts:

    "Columbus was so impressed with the hard work of these gentle islanders, that he immediately seized their land for Spain and enslaved them to work in his brutal gold mines. Within only two years, 125,000 (half of the population) of the original natives on the island were dead.

    "Shockingly, Columbus supervised the selling of native girls into sexual slavery. Young girls of the ages 9 to 10 were the most desired by his men. In 1500, Columbus casually wrote about it in his log. He said: "A hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand."

    "He forced these peaceful natives work in his gold mines until they died of exhaustion. If an "Indian" worker did not deliver his full quota of gold dust by Columbus' deadline, soldiers would cut off the man's hands and tie them around his neck to send a message. Slavery was so intolerable for these sweet, gentle island people that at one point, 100 of them committed mass suicide. Catholic law forbade the enslavement of Christians, but Columbus solved this problem. He simply refused to baptize the native people of Hispaniola.

    "On his second trip to the New World, Columbus brought cannons and attack dogs. If a native resisted slavery, he would cut off a nose or an ear. If slaves tried to escape, Columbus had them burned alive. Other times, he sent attack dogs to hunt them down, and the dogs would tear off the arms and legs of the screaming natives while they were still alive. If the Spaniards ran short of meat to feed the dogs, Arawak babies were killed for dog food."


    I know we have different standards to judge historical figures, but even in his day his actions were considered brutal by his own men. One of Columbus' men, Bartolome De Las Casas wrote that in a single day he was an "eye witness as the Spanish soldiers dismembered, beheaded, or raped 3000 native people. "Such inhumanities and barbarisms were committed in my sight as no age can parallel," De Las Casas wrote. "My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature that now I tremble as I write.""

    This is certainly quite a bit different than what I learned from my school days. Did we have some "Texas style" rewriting of history textbooks back in those days as well?
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    Columbus did what most the early explorers did, at that was to dehumanize the native population and then exploit them, the record for these Spanish sponsored ventures is horrible, what they did to the South American natives and those also in what is now known as Central America is right out of Dante's Inferno, the way these people were treated is certainly not in the true Christian thinking, I felt that all of those exploiters/explorers should have been brought to some type of tribunal to pay for their crimes.
  • Other Party
    orlando/winter park, FL
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    no,he is no hero,but he did find this country and should be regonized for it. so why not a day for him.heck,muslims want a national holiday on calenderfor them. why not one for me, patsyann, the one and only. how about the rest of you "??? you want a holiday for ????
  • Liberal
    Independent
    Durham, NH
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    A holiday from nutcake, TeaBagger trollers would suit me just fine! By the way patsyann, what makes you believe Columbus discovered America?