Columbus Day

It’s Columbus Day!

Well, not anymore. It was.

Some kid came in,had to do a project on the Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria. Barns and Noble did not have one book on him on the shelves.

I come here, not a single debate. Not a humble opinion.

What gives? People got off work. I got time and a half. It’s a holiday. But not only are we not celebrating, we’re not even arguing. Not even people who love to argue.

C’mon. Father of the New World. Genocidal Bastard. Something! The only real death is indifference.

It was Colombus Day?

The only thing that pisses me off about Columbus Day, is that all businesses are still open, 'cept the Gov’t, here in Florida. So I had to work.

I WANT LESS CORRUPTION. Or more of a chance to participate.

Who are these people who got Columbus Day off? Except for my mailman and my trash guys, I sure don’t know any of them.

And Columbus Day has always seemed to be a second-tier holiday. Kinda like flag day. I know some people get all riled up about one side of the issue or the other, but I suspect most people just don’t care, and that few would miss Columbus Day if it was disposed of.

All I know is that here in the greater Washington DC area, my morning commute was a hell of a lot faster. They should have one of these Columbus Day thingies every day.

Aside from that, Columbus was a genocidal bumbler. He was wrong about the size of the Earth, he was wrong about where he thought he was going, he was wrong about where he ended up, and he had no qualms about eliminating native populations in order to take their stuff. Fuck him.

Well, I had to work yesterday, but I couldn’t go book shopping (damn Argosy Books was closed) and couldn’t get a bagel for lunch (Yom Kippur!).

Columbus Day was a much bigger event 100 years ago when so many recent Italian immigrants had a lot of political 9and social) pull.

I think some towns are wisely changing Columbus Day into Italian Pride Day. Makes much more sense. I always get slightly annoyed at those cutesy “Queen Isabella Sales” ads. That bitch was the Hitler of her day . . .

>> Columbus was a genocidal bumbler. He was wrong about the size of the Earth, he was wrong about where he thought he was going, he was wrong about where he ended up, and he had no qualms about eliminating native populations in order to take their stuff. Fuck him

Ignorance is alive and well and flaunted.

Well, gee, sailor, why don’t you point out what I’m ignorant about? I’ll post points, and you refute them, m’kay? If you can’t do that, maybe you can find something else constructive to add. Or maybe not.

1. He was wrong about the size of the Earth.

This was Columbus’ whole argument. He argued that the Earth was much smaller than it was thought to be; so much smaller, in fact, that China and India must be juuuuuust on the other side of that big ocean to the west of Spain. Advisors told him the Earth was bigger than he thought, and he refused to believe them. He used a circumference of around 15,000 miles for his plans, which is about 10,000 miles short. Miscalculating your travel distance by nearly 50% qualifes one for bumbler status quite easily.

2. He was wrong about where he thought he was going.

See above. Columbus assumed that the Earth was small, and that Asia was on the other side of the Atlantic. Had it not been for the intervening continent and island, Columbus and his three ships would have been lost at sea, since they didn’t carry provisions for a trip that long. When Columbus reached the Sargasso, he was befuddled by the fact that there were so many birds around, since he expected there to be no land yet. (He was on his way to Asia, remember?)

3. He was wrong about where he ended up.

Columbus assumed he was in Asia, or the subcontinent. Nope, sorry–he was in the Caribbean. Not only that, but he wrongly claimed the prize that was to be awarded by the Spanish Crown to the sailor who first sighted land.

4. He had no qualms about eliminating native populations to take their stuff.

His first day in the New World, Columbus and his men captured six natives to use as servants. His third day there, he wrote in his log that “with 50 men you could subject every one and make them do what you wished.” He spent most of October and November, 1492, doing two things: looking for gold and capturing slaves. The only reason that the Spaniards did enslave the entire Caribbean population was that they made poor slaves–they tended to die on the voyage to Spain.

Columbus started unfounded stories that the inhabitants of the islands were savages and cannibals, so that when the Spaniards returned in 1493, they launched a vicious, full-scale invasion force. Columbus himself took captured female islanders and basically gave them away as concubines to his men.

For details on much of this, see

OK, sailor, your turn. Show me how ignorant I am.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I’m Italian-American. However, I am genrally more embarassed by my pedigree than proud of it, so don’t think that I’m coming at this question with some knee-jerk, rah-rah, Kiss-Me-I’m-Italian jingoism.

I think that Columbus does not deserve the screwing he’s getting. I was slack-jawed when 1992 came and went with hardly a peep of notice that it was the 500th anniversary of CC’s landing in the New World.

Don’t people have a sense of history here? The day he set foot on the American shore THE DESTINY OF THE ENTIRE WORLD CHANGED FOREVER! How many people/acts can that be said for? Maybe the invention of the practical printing press. Perhaps a handful of acts of statesmanship or war. Just about everything else was a gradual, evolutionary process.

Would someone else have done it eventually? No doubt, but so what? Then that person would be deserving of a holiday, in my opinion. Had someone done it before? Almost certainly yes – but to no real effect. (Though damn, you gotta admire those Vikings, if for nothing else than their taste in women!)

Was CC “genocidal”? Please. CC and his ilk lived by the rules and mores of their time. That’s all. (Just wait until 2050 when dogs the vote, and all of today’s pet owners will be tried as war criminals. Hahahaha.)

The fact remains that CC changed the world, and we’re letting a bunch of PC nay-sayers hang him out to dry without a word of objection.

Too bad he never did that. The closest he ever came was Cuba. Oh, and when he was there, he made his crew swear that they had reached mainland Asia, and to sign a statement to that effect under penalty of financial ruin and having their tongues cut out. He was also, by all account, a piss-poor colonial adminstrator.

Oh, and this is great:

"Columbus designed a tribute system. Spaniards would not deign to dig any gold for themselves, so the natives had to dig it. Every Taino over 14 years of age was to give a hawk’s bell (about the size of a thimble) of gold to the rulers (Columbus and his men) every three months. Upon receipt of the gold, the natives were given tokens to wear around their necks as proof of payment. It was a simple system. When the Spaniards found Tainos without the appropriate tokens, they chopped their hands off, leaving them to bleed to death and making examples of them.

The quota was impossible to meet. The natives had to stop growing food and taking care of themselves to try mining gold. They began starving, falling prey to European disease and all manner of horror, even if the Spanish did not murder them for ‘sport.’ The Taino fled as far as they could go: across the island, up into the hills, even to other islands. There was no permanent escape, except by death. Mothers began killing their children before they took their own lives. The Tainos had mass suicides by jumping from cliffs and poisoning themselves, yet the Spanish killed far more, and in ingenious ways."

What a hero. If it was inexcusable for Stalin, it’s inexcusable for Columbus, especially when performed under the auspices of Christian conversion.

What I don’t understand is why Hispanics (at least those I know in the Dallas area) make a much bigger deal of Columbus Day than most people. Well, I guess I understand part of it because one of my Mexican-American friends said it’s because he brought Catholocism to the Americas…but he also was under the impression that Columbus was a Spaniard.

My vote is for genocidal bastard.

It was Thanksgiving here yesterday, Columbus wasn’t mentioned even once.

pldennison noted a lot of stuff. I’d like to see what sailor has to say.

School kids were interviewed on the radio, and most of them were taught that Columbus “discovered America”. How the hell do you discover a place that’s already inhabited? That’s like me “discovering” your apartment, and moving in.
(Not blaming the kids, BTW.)

Hmm, Columbus was a pretty bad man. OK, I can take that, but let’s not get too caught up in what happened in teh Americas. First of all, there were more people than Columbus hacking people up. It is not fair to ascribe all the hooros to him.

Second, most of the deaths to the natives came from diseases, not genocide. I make kill you by giving you the pox, but that does not make me a bad man.

Also, let’s remember that the natives in the ne world were not exactly “noble savages.” The utes and pueblos engaged in cannibalism. THe aztecs and Incas had slaves and murdered people as part of their ritual sacrifice.

IF you have two murderous cultures, I fail to see why the prevailing one is somehow worse by nature.

Ignorance is rampant and a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing.

I really do not want to get deeply involved in this thread as I have come to the conclusion that Great Debates is the Pit without the cussing and I have never seen anyone learn anything here or change their opinion, so I would not think I would be the first one to achieve that effect. So I will not engage anyone personally, just state my own view and try to move on and not waste time here.

The people who most denigrate Columbus are those who know least about him. The denigrate him on counts that are false and others that are true but it is foolish to judge by today’s standards. AS Stuyguy points out, it is foolish to judge people who lived 500 years ago by our standards. If you cannot see the foolishness of this I really do not wish to try to convince you of anything.

I have read several biographies of Columbus and my view is that he was an outstanding navigator, far ahead of his those of his time. At the same time he was a very poor leader of men or negotiator and that got him into all sorts of trouble.

The page mentioned: (I had to remove the last period for the link to work) is laughable and full of inaccuracies and misjudgments. Note that this same guy has another page about USA-Irak where he blasts America (a land where “the big criminals make the laws”) and defends Irak. He is a leftist extremist and I am glad I do not share his views.

Columbus captained several expeditions but he never governed or had any other civil command. To accuse him of what the Spanish might have done later is ludicrous. He was a navigator and discoverer and that is how he should be judged. He never governed. To blame him for what came later would be like blaming Einstein for Hiroshima. Some people think it is reasonable, I think it is ludicrous.

The discovery of America was lead by a man who probably was born in what is now Italy but is was not an Italian enterprise. Italy didn’t even begin to exist until much later in history.

The discovery and colonizing of America was begun by Castile (not Spain) and continued by other European countries. To blame Columbus for what the Europeans did is just plain ignorant.

Looking at the bigger picture of what the Spanish and other Europeans did and judging by the standards of their time, I cannot see what is so wrong.

The Spanish crown immediately decreed that Indians were chrildren of God, could not be enslaved and should be converted to the Christian faith. I am not religious and I think religion may be a pretty stupid thing for pretty stupid people but that does not change the fact that they thought they were doing those people some good by converting them. Today America tries to expand democracy as a universal value because that is what they consider to be good. For Europeans 500 years ago it was religion.

Yes, Europeans had wars with the natives just as they were having wars among themselves in Europe. 500 years later we still have wars going on in Europe and elsewhere. I cannot see how Europeans were so guilty in this aspect.

The Spanish tried to expand their culture in America just like America does all over the world today and for the same reason: because they thought it was better. They brought with them the form or civil government, religion and culture they knew. Obviously it was not perfect but it was a damnsight better than the indian culture they found.

Yes, they forced some indians to do some things they did not want to do. You know what? That was the way life was 500 years ago and many Spaniards were also forced to do stuff they did not want to do. You know what? 300 years later the British were still forcing men to sail on ships against theiur will. You know what? Countries today still recruit people for the army against their will and make them pay taxes (also known as working) against their will.

To call the Spanish colonization “genocide” is plainly against the facts. The Spanish always considered the natives as people to be converted to Spanish culture, religion and institutions. There was NEVER any thought that they should be killed.

The Spanish tried to map their organization on to native culture as best they could and as they had done elesewhere. At that time people were divided into nobles, commoners etc, (not only in Spain but everywhere in Europe) and Spain tried to implement that organization.

When the Basque country was joined with the crown of Castile, it turned out the basques had no nobility as such and so, this presented a problem. How could you have a society like that. Jurists set out to work and discuss whether all Basques should be considered commoners… in the end it was decided all Basques, no matter how poor or low, would be considered nobles. Today this might make you laugh but at that time it was the best they had.

When the Spanish arrived in America they did the same thing. In societies that did have a “nobility” like the Aztecs, their nobles were given titles of nobility by the Spanish crown (which probably survided until the declaration of Mexican independence). The Spanish did not massacre them, they gave them titles of nobility. And when things could not be resolved by better means, they fought just like humanity still does today. You only have to look at Israel today.

To say Cortés with a couple hundred Spaniards defeated and massacred the Mexican empire is wrong and anyone with a little common sense would see this would have been impossible. Cortés (in great contrast to Columbus) was great leader of men and a great negotiator. He took advantage of the internal quarrels among native triv=bes and used them to his advantage. For every Spaniard fighting the Mexicans there were many hundreds of Indians fighting on the same side.

The Black legend about Columbus and the Spanish conquest is based on a little bit of fact and a lot of stuff that has no basis in fact. Columbus never governed, never enslaved anyone and in fact ended himself in chains back in Spain.

As I said, I know I could write here until the cows come home and that would not change the view of anyone reading by one iota. I just hope those with a more flexible mind can know that, like most large enterprises in life, this one is complex and it takes a lot of learning before you can begin to form a valid opinion. If you see it in terms of black and white it means you probably know very little about it.

There are some pretty good biographies of Columbus out there and, to those interested in the topic I would recommend reading more. But the web page mentioned above is total crap and full of inaccuracies.

If someone wants to discuss this topic more objectively (I mean from a factual historic perspective, not from a judgmental position),I for one would find it very interesting as I have read quite a bit about the period. But if we are just going to denigrate the white man for causing everything that’s wrong, then I have no interest in engaging in the discussion.

A couple of things I forgot to include in my previous post. One is a general comment about school education. Most people’s general knowledge comes from there, without much further expansion. As has been mentioned in this board many times, a lot of what you are taught in school is just plain wrong and, in any case, the whole thing is simplified and summarized to an extent where a lot of it makes little sense. But this is what shapes public perception and what we call “general knowledge”. Unfortunaetely a lot of those things are plain wrong. Any good book on the subject has better information. University professors and scholars have better information. It is there but most people go with what they consider the common knowledge without digging deeper. So we start with people discussing something where they barely have enough knowledge of the facts to have a valid opinion.

Even if they did have all the facts right, obviously they can come to very different interpretations. The guy who wrote that page about Columbus has a lot of facts wrong but even if he had them all correct I have no doubt he could never see things the way I see them. I think he is a whacko with little understanding, not only of the world 500 years ago, but of the world today.

In his page about Irak he starts out:

Well, with people whose grasp of the reality that surrounds us is so different from mine, I just would not give their opinion much weight.

I am surprised nobody quoted him in the recent thread about solar power and the conspiracy of the power companies to supress it. He fits right in there.

Sailor, I’d like for you to come to my Latin American class.
Because then you’d learn that you’re full of shit.

(Mr. Zambeki-the Incas weren’t into cannibalism and slavery. That was the Aztecs.).

As far as the natives being “barbaric”, wasn’t the Inquisition going on in Spain at that time?

The Spanish conquistadors were pretty brutal. They set up the encomienda system, which was basically serfdom.
They worked the natives to death as a cheap source of labor and only paid lip service to the idea of converting them.
I believe that was when Montesino came in and later Bartolome de Las Casas, who fought against the system and later became a Dominican priest.

Did you guys know that after Spain came, eventually, 95% of the Native American population was wiped out?

Don’t fucking kid yourselves. We revolted against Britain for a few stupid tax laws. The Spanish colonies could’ve given Hitler lessons.

>> 95% of the Native American population was wiped out

Is that a fact? Well, I learn something every day. I guess they later repopulated with imported indians because when I was in Mexico the natives outnumbered those of European descent by a wide margin as they do in Central America and a lot of South America. How would you explain that? If you want to talk of exterminating indians, it seems to me the anglos did a much more efficient job, or so it seems by the numbers. Believe me, there are plenty of natives left if latin America. I do not think they were wiped out by any sense of the word but if you have any support for your assertion, I’d like to see it. I am always amazed how people can have opinions that go against the most obvious facts they can see with their own eyes.

At any rate, I thought this was about Columbus and I do not think he killed anybody or had anything to do with anything that came after him. He did a great feat by opening a new land to Europeans. Of what happened after him I cannot see how he bears any responsibility.

Regarding the Inquisition, I won’t even touch it here. There was another thread a while back about this and I think it was quite well established the Inquisition was no worse than the religious practices of any other country in Europe. You can go resurect that thread if you like.

As for being full of shit, I’ll ignore the rude comment. As I said, I thought GD was the pit without insults. I have never posted in the pit simply because that is not what I am looking for. If you would like to express your opinions about whether I am full of shit or not, I would suggest you start a thread in the pit where you will have the thread to yourself as I will not participate.

oct. 9th is leif erikson day, columbus is on the 11th. so yestaurday i was at the leif erikson statue watching a long boat row\sail on the schylkyl river.

quite a day with 4 things happening at once.

Feynn wrote:

Pah, you Canucks can’t even celebrate Thanksgiving in the proper month! :wink: