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Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by yodedude2, Oct 14, 2013.
i knew about columbus, but bartolome was news to me:
well the author certainly has some hypocritical things to say, along with a tinge or racism and classism.. fun!
This has been viral lately, I have no idea why, because the same stuff gets reiterated every Columbus Day.
Bartolome de las Casas is an important figure and his "Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies" is often assigned in college history classes on pertinent subjects (world history, american history, etc.). I've taught the text several times myself and it's well worth it. De las Casas is a very sympathetic character, certainly.
But if we're going to be in debunking mode, one might point out that de las Casas had his motivations for taking the role of "whistle blower" on conquistador abuses. There was a power struggle going on at the time over who would have oversight of Spanish colonies in the Americas, the secular conquistador warlords or missionary churchmen (nobody believed going home and leaving the natives alone was an option). De las Casas wrote to object to abuses by the secular side's abuses in order to persuade the king of Spain that churchmen would be better managers of the colonies who would make them prosperous and profitable rather than stripping them bare and depopulating them. Still though, like I said, a much more humane and sympathetic guy.
At any rate, Columbus Day wasn't made a holiday because Columbus was such a great guy. The Columbus myth (which no one really believes any more, I don't know why everyone acts like anyone does) was generated afterwards for school curricula. I mean, New England puritans and revolutionary-era founding fathers didn't go around celebrating Columbus. The holiday was created in order to gratify the growing Italian-American immigrant population (and therefore to curry their votes). It was a way of saying these immigrants had their place in American society too (much as St. Patrick's Day parades did for the Irish, even if it didn't become a federal holiday). That population is sufficiently integrated into the country now that the gesture is probably irrelevant, but there isn't much precedent for eliminating a holiday, and efforts to do so largely just devolve into symbolic efforts for liberals and conservatives to rev up crowds and test their strength against each other.
I don't have the inclination to research the interweb comic strip, but what an awful story. Apparently, nice guys really do finish last. Guess I should at least go out and squash a bug today. But I won't.
Aw man, I didn't see this when I posted my thread.
Sweet! So Columbus was what the kids today call "a pimp". They line up to celebrate people who trade in women, violence, and money every day. Those people get Top 10 hits and all the "cheddar" they can stand. What's the difference? I guess all we have to do to make it right is give Fitty Cent a national holiday.
Back then, Columbus was just playin the game. Don't hate the playuh......
I've always hated it when people say that Columbus couldn't have discovered the New World and use Leif Erricsson and the American aborigines as reasons why. Leif Erricsson's discoveries had passed into myth, and the rest of the world had no idea that there was landmass here. It's like saying "no one ever discovered Antarctica because the penguins knew it was there." It's idiotic.
I like to use the metaphor of moving to a new town. When I move, I have to drive around for a while and find out where the grocery store is, where the post office is, etc. Did I "discover" those places? Absolutely - from my perspective. Did other people already know they were there? Absolutely. Both are true. Columbus did discover America, and whatever else he was, he was a daring explorer. But morally, he was no different from any other conquest-minded European aristocrat, and had no problem using violence - sometimes quite brutal violence - to achieve his ends. Whether one thinks he's worth a holiday depends on how you balance those aspects of his personality, and his general historical significance apart from moral considerations.
The real difference between Columbus and Leif Ericsson is that Columbus had the printing press and Leif Ericsson didn't. Columbus could publicize what he had done (and did so, aggressively), while Ericsson's voyage went into saga form in old Norse that only other Scandinavians could understand. Ericsson was also a daring explorer, but not as historically significant. Interestingly, there ARE one or two maps from medieval Europe, pre-Columbus, that show a large island out there past Greenland - one even labels it "Vinland." So the Vinlandssaga was being read by SOMEONE even if it wasn't widely known.