Monday, October 08, 2007

The Columbus Legacy

The Columbus Legacy

“Since Columbus has his vocal supporters, it becomes easy for many to ignore the troublesome calls for reevaluation and to simply dismiss the question raised in the banner carried in protest at the Springfield parade: Why celebrate genocide and slavery? Those who make the effort to educate themselves about the reality behind the Columbus myth, however, are typically shocked by what they find--a common reaction among students studying the Columbus Quincentennial. Part of the shock relates to Columbus himself, who was directly and personally responsible for the enslavement, torture, mutilation and murder of thousands of Indians of the Caribbean islands he and his brothers ruled. Most of these atrocities occurred after Columbus' first voyage in 1492, when he returned again and again to search for gold. Part of the shock goes beyond Columbus himself to the legacy he left for those who extended his policies: the institutionalization of slavery and mass murder of the Indians; the slavery of millions of Africans stolen from their homes and brought here to produce riches for Europeans; the destruction of a natural environment that had nurtured millions of Indians in thousands of cultures from the Arctic to the tip of South Americal; and the common belief that might makes right. There is still another kind of shock: the shock of realizing we were lied to. Why is our childhood memory of Columbus so hazy and positive? Why were we never taught what he actually did to those smiling, friendly Indians pictured in the books we read as children? Why didn't we learn about the torture, the mutilation, the rapes, the slaves, the single-minded pursuit of gold?” Columbus Not the Hero Americans Believe- Dennis Fox
As Euro-AmeriKKKans celebrate the “exploits” and “heroics” of the man known as Christopher Columbus, it behooves us to pause and allow the truth to marinate in our minds and psyches. The man history (the white man’s version) calls Christopher Columbus was not a hero, he was not a bold scientific explorer on a quest to prove the world was round, he was not a man of innocent adventure. He was a cold blooded killer, a ruthless butcher torturer and plunderer. These facts are indisputable to all but the most brainwashed and mentally comatose victims of global white supremacist mesmerism. The fact of the matter is, Eurocentric accounts of Columbus rarely mention his subsequent voyages to the Western hemisphere, probably because no amount of Western factual obfuscation can trivialize the vile and virulent psychopathy this man unleashed upon the peaceful native inhabitants of the Caribbean.
When Columbus returned to the Caribbean in 1493 he came not as an innocuous explorer because he knew there were inhabitants here. The second time he came with the sole purpose of stealing the gold and riches he thought they possessed. True to his mission he fitted his seventeen ships with over a thousand men, cannon, crossbows, guns cavalry, and attack dogs. He came with the full intent of waging war to plunder and pillage the newly “discovered” lands beyond the shores of Europe. “When Columbus and his men returned to Haiti in 1493, they demanded food, gold spun cotton-whatever the Indians had that the Spaniards wanted, including sex with their women. To ensure cooperation Columbus used exemplory punishment. When an Indian committed even a minor offense, Columbus and his men cut off the Indian’s ears or nose. The he sent the person disfigured back to their village as a warning.” The Truth About Columbus A Subversively true Poster Book for a Dubiously Celebratory Occasion by Professor James W. Loewen page 22
On his second voyage the Europeans unleashed the savagery and brutality on the natives of Hispaniola that had been the cultural prerogative of Europeans for centuries. “Columbus' second voyage commenced in 1493. It consisted of over 1000 men and 17 ships. He brought sugarcane with him to the Indies for enslaved Indians to cultivate. He also brought livestock to America for the first time, such as horses, sheep and cattle. The second voyage was mainly a colonization effort. Columbus and his crew left the Canary Islands on October 15, 1493. On the first voyage, Columbus left 40 men in a fort built from the Santa Maria's remains. Columbus named this place Navidad. Columbus and his crew returned to Navidad on November 28, only to find the fort burned and the men dead. Guganagari, a local chief that Columbus befriended on his first voyage, told him that the men argued among themselves over gold. Some of them abandoned the fort, but some of the rest raided an inland tribe and kidnapped people. The Indians retaliated by burning the fort and killing the men that remained. Columbus sailed eastward to the coast of Hispaniola to look for a place to build a new colony. He found a spot that he called ‘La Isabella’ after the Queen of Spain. The next several months were spent establishing the colony and exploring La Isabella. On April 24, 1494, Columbus and his crew sailed from La Isabella with three of the 17 ships to find the mainland of China. They reached Cuba on April 30, and left May 3. They anchored in Jamaica two days later. Because Columbus still could not find the mainland, and the Indians were mostly hostile to them, Columbus left for Cuba on May 13. Columbus quickly found that there were shoals and small islands dotting the coast of Cuba. This made exploration treacherous. Columbus and his crew headed west for several weeks in search of the mainland. He finally gave up the quest on June 13, 1494. Columbus did not want to admit failure, so he ordered all of his crewmen to sign a document swearing that Cuba was the mainland, since it was so large. Columbus returned to Hispaniola on August 20, 1494. By the end of September, Columbus was ill. His crew had abandoned further explorations and settled down in La Isabella. Columbus left La Isabella on March 10, 1496, bound home for Spain. He sighted Portugal on June 8.” Christopher Columbus by Tammy
When the Arawaks the indigenous inhabitants who had initially welcomed the foul-smelling pale faced invaders had had enough they fought back with sticks and stones which only gave the European brutes the excuse they were looking for to launch a full fledged assault using all their weapons of mass destruction and their attack trained hunting dogs! I point this out because Columbus had merely transported to the Caribbean the warmongering behavior Europeans have replicated everywhere they’ve set foot on planet earth, create conflict.
This is the real legacy of Christopher Columbus. It is a legacy that his European cousins continue to this very day. The re-invasion of Haiti, the assaults on Afghanistan and Iraq instigated by George W Bu$h are nothing more than a continuation of the same mentality, same psychopathy and same motives, the will to dominate and exterminate. By making Columbus a hero to school children it imprints upon their psyches the notion that European imperialism is ok, that it is admirable and noble. “This fact hints at how the traditional Columbus myth, and much of the curriculum that follows in its wake, has conditioned children to accept without question imperial adventures like the Iraq war. For many children, the meeting of Columbus and the Taínos is the first time in the formal curriculum they learn about the contact between different cultures—often as early as October of kindergarten year, around Columbus Day. In fact, it's children's first in-school exposure to the contact between different nations—to foreign policy. From their earliest days in school, students are taught to identify with white Europeans: the explorers, discoverers, and conquerors. The people Columbus ‘discovers’ are incidental to the main tale of heroism—there, but not there. With few exceptions, children's books describe the arrival of Columbus in remarkably similar ways. Here's a typical passage, from A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus: ‘Christopher Columbus and his men rowed ashore. He planted a flag in the sand and claimed the island for Spain. He named it San Salvador.’ Missing from this crisp description is a basic question: What right did Columbus have to claim someone else's territory in the name of a far away empire? The book acknowledges that there were "natives" living there, so why couldn't these natives keep their land? Why couldn't the land be called what it had been called by its inhabitants for perhaps hundreds of years: Guanahani?” Commentary: Christopher Columbus and the Iraq War By Bill Bigelow
In addition to a culture that worships violence and promotes violence as a major entertainment theme the disingenuous Columbus historiography perpetuated by the European ruling elites conditions our psyches to accept and acquiesce to war and imperial overreach like we see going on now. In the name of Christianity and the Spanish monarchy Columbus slaughtered the Tianos Arawaks and Caribs, just as George W Bu$h is slaughtering and torturing Arabs, Afghanis and Persians for Exxon Mobil Shell and BP. Just as Bill Clinton slaughtered Serbs and Bosnians in the name of humanitarianism. Or like John F. Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon massacred millions of Asians in the name of anti-communism. The warfare and torture Columbus let loose was not unique, European rulers and Church heads were doing that to their own people for centuries, what made Columbus unique was he imported it outside of Europe on an even wider scale than the Europeans did during the Crusades! As we look around the world today we see the Europeans have perfected their barbarism and have gotten much of the world to go along with their perverted notions that you can make “peace” by waging war or that imperialist occupations are “liberation”. Moreover there is an insidious psychological underpinning to all this, that white might makes right, that pillage plunder and theft by whites is good. This is the core lesson the European ruling elites propagate by their Columbus historiography. “This celebration of colonial conquest is at the heart of the Columbus myth. Children learn that global inequality is a fact of life. The world is divided in two: the discoverers and the discovered, the rulers and the ruled, the civilized and the savage, the worthy and the unworthy. And later, as children will learn, the rich and the poor. And what characteristics does Columbus possess that could justify the domination described in kids' books? The books fail to answer this question directly, simply because they never raise it. Students are left to answer it themselves, albeit not consciously: Columbus was white, the natives were not; Columbus was Christian, the natives non-Christian; Columbus was armed, the natives un-armed. Whatever answers they may generate will endorse inequality: Some people in the world inherently have more rights than others. This fundamental global inequality is the ideological underpinning of U.S. involvement in Iraq. As George W. Bush proclaimed in his January 2003 State of the Union address, where he justified the impending war against Iraq: ‘Once again, we are called to defend the safety of our people and the hopes of all mankind. ...And as we and our coalition partners are doing in Afghanistan, we will bring to the Iraqi people food
and medicines and supplies—and freedom.’ According to this logic, ‘we’ have the right to invade other nations when we decide they threaten us. We have a right to occupy other countries. We have the right to impose on them whatever form of government we choose—in the name of freedom, of course. We have the right to decide when others are ready to rule themselves, or not.” Commentary: Christopher Columbus and the Iraq War By Bill Bigelow
Whether you are merely enjoying a day off or mindlessly and foolishly “celebrating” this Eurocentric “holiday”, we should take a break to rethink what this means to us as African people. Stop and take a moment to reflect on all the souls that have been slaughtered over the centuries by Europeans in the name of their god, their leaders and ideologies. We need to ask ourselves do our ancestors want us to celebrate such savagery and by celebrating this “holiday” are we validating and giving energy to this vile legacy?



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