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Who Could Possibly Be in Favor of Columbus Day?


#1

Who Could Possibly Be in Favor of Columbus Day?

Bayard Johnson

I never thought much about Christopher Columbus until I became writing partners with Russell Means, in 1992. Russell had strong feelings about Columbus. He felt it was wrong to honor someone who oppressed Indians, and who avoided catastrophe only by the dumb luck of colliding with an unknown continent.

Often, Russell would go to Denver on Columbus Day to help lead a protest to shut down the Columbus Day Parade. Sometimes he landed in jail, but it was Russell’s hope that he would see the end of Columbus Day in the United States, in his lifetime.


#2

Columbus was key in passing the baton of exceptionalism through time and space from Europe to America. We've even had an inquisition (Guantanamo, black sites, et al.) for the sake of completeness.


#3

"Who Could Possibly Be in Favor of Columbus Day?" What a question, but one that answers itself every day in this world. To provide an exhaustive list would take way too long, but we can start with just about any neocon, any republican, police departments in Ferguson and just about anywhere across the US, president Obama (of all people!, but his record of war against non-whites across the globe speaks volumes in praise of Columbus), John Bolton (he of the magnificent 'stache and a brain that could not conceive of anyone anywhere as other than an opportunity for rapine and plunder), gun-toting yahoos who try to intimidate protesters after almost any African-American is murdered by the police, and on and on ad infinitum, ad nauseum. There is definitely no shortage of modern-day Columbian acolytes. Every day our sensibilities are assaulted by stories crowing their exploits around the globe, and all regarding people who know full well the history, but whose actions replicate every horror. Sigh. What a question.


#4

"Columbus Day is the only national holiday in the United States—apart from Christmas, named after Jesus—that is named after an individual. "

Mr. Johnson is in big, big trouble.... There's one more national US holiday that's named after an individual, and he forgot it. He's definitely gonna get a call from the NAACP.


#5

I am. I think it at least presents an opportunity to talk about the history that brought us to this point, any possible relevance to today, etc. In fact, a legitimate examination of both sides of the annual "Columbus Day" (and Thanksgiving) battle might ultimately cause some people to think. The hard part is to strip away the myths, for and against, and putting Columbus into the context of the times and places involved.

In reality, Columbus was a businessman, not a politician. He set out in search of a westward route to Asia by sea, for purposes of trade, and ended up hitting North America instead. He lived from 1451 to 1506 -- a very different world from what we have today. I'd recommend taking some time to read about who Columbus actually was, and what he did during his career.


#6

Nonsense. Columbus was simply a businessman. He had set out to find a westward route to Asia by sea, for trade purposes, and ended up hitting North America instead -- at least some 400 years after the first white people (the Vikings) reached this continent Columbus died some 270 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It's necessary to keep historical figures within the context of the times and places involved.


#7

Is business not the root of Western exceptionalism?


#8

In answer to your question, possibly some bone headed Italo-Americans. Also, in social behaviors as with any others, it's hard to break bad habits, especially in this case when a holiday means a day off from work.


#10

"It certainly took a kind of semi-delusional visionary fanatic to think
that any of this could ever happen, and to bet his fortune and
reputation on making it work. Though his calculations were all wrong,
his plan fatally flawed, and his journey ended almost 9,000 miles from
his intended destination, by the incredible luck of stumbling upon an
unknown continent, Columbus almost surpassed his wildest dreams before
crashing back to earth"

Isn't the author so very CLEVER in using his modern knowledge to criticise someone who, whatever his sins, was a rather brave man who really did not have GPS support , no inflatable liferafts, no knowledge of vitamin C and no radio to call for help when he set out on a journey into what in his day was as unknown as the moon. The Chinese may have known better, but the Royal Mail and telephones had not then been invented for Columbus to have asked them. And Aristarchus was long dead. Neill Armstrong knew more about where he was going than did Columbus. To describe Columbus as a semi-delusional visionary fanatic is an insult.


#11

Fanatics don't need bravery, because they're sure they're right. It's that supreme charismatic confidence. How do you think he worked his way into nobility and then talked the king into giving him money? You may find it admirable, but I don't. it's a form of insanity. In his day, or ours.


#12

Columbus was delusional. Columbus was extremely cruel. Columbus was driven to gain wealth and prestige at any cost. He had few, if any, redeeming qualities. He was the perfect representative of predatory capitalism.


#13

Columbus was cruel. The Spanish were cruel.The Aztecs weren't exactly humanitarians and I gather the Incas had slaves. As for fanatic and delusional. He was no more fanatic or delusional than were the Aztec priests were in ripping out peoples' hearts to placate their gods. Not that Columbus met with the Aztecs.

So Columbus acquired a position in society that enabled him to get some money from a king. So he was a human being. Is it a crime to get money from a king? Is it insanity to get money from a king? Is it delusional to get money from a king?


#14

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


#15

Excellent point. But to me, the issue is even simpler.
Even if Columbus had been a saint and he had honored rather than slaughtered the population of this continent, by celebrating him, we implicitly celebrate the 'discovery' of America. And that conception in itself captures the entire dynamic of the European centric ignorant arrogant worldview - deeply offensive to the native population - who in the words of Galleano, did not know that they had been discovered.


#17

The articles states: "Columbus Day is the only national holiday in the United States—apart
from Christmas, named after Jesus—that is named after an individual. "

What about Martin Luther King Jr.? Christian Haerle, London


#18

Yes, the author seems to have completely forgotten the January holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.