I’ve thought long and hard about this post and came to the conclusion it was readily worth it to address the very popular and constantly supported myth of Christopher Columbus. First, people lived here before Columbus got here (we know this, but never is this emphasized in History classes – at least wasn’t when I took it) so the notion of celebrating his discovery of a land THAT WAS ALREADY INHABITED is kinda absurd; second, he wasn’t the first person to land on the Americas (near as I can tell this could very well have been the Vikings who landed in Novia Scotia circa 1000); third, Christopher Columbus was a wonderful war monger who set about exploring the globe at least partly because of the profit. Don’t get me wrong, the seeking of reward via profit from enterprise is something I hardly view as a bad thing the war monger thing, on the other hand, and the need to convert those of other faiths (if people doubt this about the faith please recall the Spanish Inquisition) are hardly reasons to view this guy as a hero.
Devastation, should you choose to acknowledge it, either followed Columbus around or he was the one that begot much of it. While it is not doubtful that the journey Columbus took in 1492 was ultimately what led to the colonization of the continent, the reason for celebrating such a person is limited to just that. For landing upon what is now known as the US. Which would have happened eventually. If this is all about celebrating accomplishment, one which we all benefit from, then why is it we choose to celebrate him on his own day and not revert back to celebrating Washington’s as well as Lincoln’s birthdays, eschewing President’s Day? Moreover, why was Jefferson or Adam’s not ever celebrated in this manner?
[If anyone is interested in a ridiculously biased, but really well researched book (try to ignore some of the conjecture if you can – there’s seriously some good stuff in there) I highly recommend checking out Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen.]
Ah, alas, I don’t have the answers to these questions merely suppositions which, truth be told, I couldn’t even count as a hypothesis. For now I wish all fellow citizens a most joyous long weekend if you had one, and for those abroad I’ll simply say “Happy Monday”!