The
national holiday Columbus Day commemorates the day Christopher Columbus first
set his foot in the Americas. Interestingly, different schools put up various
spectacles within that period. Most children want to dress up as their hero
Columbus and act in school plays to demonstrate how Columbus interacted with
the natives on his first arrival to their island. Of recent, debates have been
going on nationally on whether Columbus Day should be maintained, changed and
replaced or cancelled altogether. The reasons are being based on the type of
man Columbus was and his actions or policies he implemented throughout the time
which he spent in the Americas. Information gotten from Columbus’ journals,
those of some of his men and historians of his time portray Columbus as being
extremely cruel, and responsible for perpetuating heinous crimes against
humanity. Columbus’ actions clearly does not tally with our societal moral
values which is why Columbus day should be abolished, even though his discovery
of the Caribbean islands opened the doors for other expeditors to settle in the
other parts of the Americas .

The
time Columbus spent in the Caribbean islands was marked with heinous acts
against the natives. According to Treuer, upon  Columbus’ second voyage to the Caribbean, he ordered
his men to cut off the hands of any Native American who did not meet up with
his imposed levy of a teaspoon of gold dust every three months , babies were
seized from their mothers and killed, Native Americans were hanged, all in
order to spread terror (28-29). Although the sole purpose of Columbus’
expedition was to find anything that will make him wealthy and also enrich the
coffers of his sponsors who were the king and Queen of Spain, his methods of
execution which involved such cruelty is not just resentful in this modern era
but in his era too. Even though the system at the time which was greatly
influenced by the church, accepted that sailors who discovered new territories
or trade routes could claim ownership of those discoveries, on the behalf of
the European countries backing them, the priest Bartolome de las Casas who was part
of this mission, still shunned Columbus’ actions when he wrote, “The Spanish
are treating the Indians not as beasts, for beasts are treated properly at
times, but like the excrement in a public square.” (qtd. in Treuer, 29). This
shows that Columbus’ cruelty could never be condoned at any point in time in
the history of mankind and this holiday Columbus Day, should be abolished.
Slavery should be another identifier if any one wishes to talk about
Christopher Columbus.

Columbus’
story about his interaction with the natives reveals that he was always
inclined to slavery. Being on a mission for the king and Queen of Spain to find
mostly gold or precious goods as spices and pearls , Columbus’ first act when
he met the natives of the Bahamas island, who were welcoming to him and his
men  and pose no threat, was to secretly
capture some of them and take back to Spain as slaves . In his log, he wrote:
“a hundred castellanoes are 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 9 to 10 are now in demand.” (qtd. in Kasum “Columbus Day, true
legacy: cruelty and slavery”). Eric kasum further explains that Columbus got most
of his wealth from slavery especially from selling young and tender girls as sex
slaves and designates the introduction and propagation of slave trade and
slavery in the Americas to him, in his article (“Columbus Day? True legacy:
cruelty and slavery”). slavery is a very delicate topic to be discussed now a
days because not only does it mark a dark era in any nations history but its
effects on the victims has kept living on from generation to generation.
Effects such as having an internal void due to the loss of one’s tribe, race,
culture and not knowing where you come from nor belong are depressive markers
which a thousand apologies could never take away. This is why if we are to
educate not only children but the nation at large that slavery is not just
morally incorrect but a crime against humanity, then dedicating a whole day in
a great nation as this one to Christopher Columbus, a man known for not just
propagating slavery but being its pioneer in the Americas is not appropriate
and should be abolished. Columbus’ cruelty and enslavement of the Native
Americans in his time of governance of the Caribbean islands had a negative
impact on their population size.

Genocide
is the most appropriate term to be used when describing the outcome of
Columbus’ actions in the Caribbean islands. According to Ward Churchill in his
book “Indians are us”, when Columbus and his men arrived at the Caribbean
islands in 1492, the population of Tiano Indians was about, eight million and
by 1496 the population decreased to three million and by the end of 1500 when
he left the territory, there were just about 100,000 Tiano Indians left (qtd.
in “Columbus Legacy of Genocide”). Of course, the way he cruelly treated the
indigenes of the land could only result to a rise in their deaths.  Acts like him ordering his men to cut the hands
of any native who did not supply him with the mandated amount of gold within a set
period, of which most of them died by bleeding. This only implied more deaths
as the gold were fast being depleted. In other instances he had attack dogs
chase down and kill those who resisted, some natives could no longer tolerate
such hardship and committed suicide, and most of his wars against the natives
where he had to use canons on them had a significant impact on their
population.  (Churchill, qtd. in
“Columbus Legacy of Genocide”). Columbus did not only bring more ships and men
to the Americas from the East during his back and forth voyages, historians say
he also introduce new diseases into the land, diseases to which the natives had
no immunity  which resulted to a
significantly  high death rate in a short
period of time (Treuer,15). No were in our world history have there been any
instance where the act of genocide or its perpetration have been commended.
Eradicating a whole race for any or no reason has never and will never be
viewed as something moral, this is why the observance of Columbus day in our
nation is implying that we are applauding his genocidal acts on some native
American tribes hence should be abolished.

Although
Columbus’ discovery of the Caribbean islands open a portal for other
expeditors  to colonize other parts of
the continent which lead to the immigration of 
Europeans, hence evolved to the various nations which they are today, it
is good to note that Columbus himself did not set foot on the northern
hemisphere of the Americas. Archeological reports say that Vikings and
Polynesians had earlier visited the northern parts of the Americas with
rudimentary means as compared to that of Columbus’ time some five hundred years
before Columbus’ acclaimed discovery (kasum, “Columbus Day? True legacy:
cruelty and slavery”).This means that this route was not a mystery and could be
navigated by just any sailor hence its logical to give accreditation if we must
to the sailors how actually explored our lands of which Columbus is not among.
Moreover Columbus was never even interested in finding the Caribbean, his aim
was to find another route to India so that he could get access to wealth just as
the Portuguese had done which is why in his journals he called the native Americans
he met at the Bahamas island Indians for he thought he had found another route to
India.

Setting
aside days within the year to commemorate icons for their achievements,
influences or the positive changes which they made is so important in our
society because their deeds could stand as a yard stick for the measurement of
a societal value, a turning point in a nations history and a guide to a progressive
advancement of a society as a whole. This is why the commemoration of Columbus Day
which idolizes Christopher Columbus’ personality or his accomplishment in our nation
could never be morally given that this man had a nature of cruelty, he loved and
propagated slavery and was responsible for the eradication of various races of the
indigenous people of the Americas.

Works sited

 

·        
Kasum Eric, “Columbus Day? True Legacy:
Cruelty and Slavery”. Huffpost. 10.Oct. 2016. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-kasum/columbus-day-a-bad-idea_b_742708.html

·        
Treuer Anton. “Every Thing You Wanted to
Know about Indians But Were Afraid to Ask”. Borealis Books, 2012.Print

·        
The thistle. “History Not Taught is
History Forgot: Columbus’ Legacy of Genocide” volume 9

 http://www.mit.edu/~thistle/v9/9.11/1columbus.html

 

 

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