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Should we Still Celebrate Columbus Day?

 
 
snood
 
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2015 06:09 am
I'm no history buff, but I've always heard rumors and read snips and snaps that the true nature of Columbus and his exploits are such that we really don't need to be observing his "Day" on the calendar. It took the murder of 9 churchgoers to get a few slavery icons removed from government property, and to start a serious dialogue about why artifacts of a traitorous and bloody legacy are given places of honor - but I'm glad we finally got to that.

It's naive I'm sure, but I'd hope that an earnest review of the facts of the true history of Columbus would shame us into removing him from our list of Federal Holidays. Here is an article that shows five quotations from Columbus or those around him during his time, that would make any thinking person rethink having our nation observe the man as some kind of iconic hero.

http://www.rawstory.com/2015/10/here-are-5-christopher-columbus-quotes-to-help-you-celebrate-the-holiday-appropriately/
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Type: Discussion • Score: 15 • Views: 5,122 • Replies: 126

 
Kolyo
 
  2  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2015 09:25 am
We could keep the holiday, and its name, and turn it into a celebration of doves, which symbolize peace to many cultures. "Columbus" is Latin for "male dove".
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2015 09:36 am
@snood,
I am not fan of Christopher Columbus... but I am also wary of unsourced quotes. I tried to find an actual source for a couple of these quotes, and I was unable to find any.

I question the historical accuracy of this little article.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2015 10:17 am
@maxdancona,
I've heard about de las Casas for many decades but have never read the book.

In my early education, I wasn't taught, or perhaps didn't take what I was taught, that Columbus was somehow wonderful; more that he found the New World rather by mistake. I didn't hear/read about Ferdinand and Isabella and their scalding reign until I was older.

All in all, I'm glad these lands were found, would hoist an aperitivo to that, but not the treatment of the people, the decimation of the people already on the lands.

I take it the Italians in the US are into Columbus Day parades (or are they?) but I don't remember reading about Italians in Italy being so gung ho about him. Maybe I missed it.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2015 10:27 am
@ossobuco,
Quote:
I take it the Italians in the US are into Columbus Day parades (or are they?) but I don't remember reading about Italians in Italy being so gung ho about him. Maybe I missed it.


Italians in the United States were a vulnerable immigrant group that faced quite a bit of hatred in the first half of the last century.

I suspect Italian-Americans started celebrating Columbus Day as a way to take pride in their ethnic heritage and to counter the bigotry they were facing.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2015 10:44 am
@maxdancona,
Yes. I presume the same with St. Pat's parade and the irish, and probably a lot of others I'm not aware of.

This is only a guess, that the italians who came here from the mezzogiorno weren't all involved about Columbus before coming to the US since they had other problems. I would also guess the northern italians that came could have been more highly interested, Columbus being from Genoa. I'm just riffing, have a book on italian festivals, haven't looked at it in years. I've got some homework to do to see if my guesses are way off base.

I also know nada about the start of us having a Columbus Day on the federal calendar.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  5  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2015 10:44 am
@snood,
It's an interesting question.

The first thing I would say is that half the people in the US probably don't give any more thought to Columbus Day than it just being another day off work.

Secondly, anyone who really does celebrate Columbus Day for what it is, probably only celebrates the good things they believe they know about Columbus, so intentions are probably all good.

And lastly, if we really knew the truth about most of the people and events we think we understand about history, I'm not sure we would have any holidays at all.

ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2015 10:50 am
@rosborne979,
I agree with that, rosborne.
0 Replies
 
snood
 
  3  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2015 11:35 am
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:

It's an interesting question.

The first thing I would say is that half the people in the US probably don't give any more thought to Columbus Day than it just being another day off work.



It's an interesting answer.
So if half the people are asleep to the facts about this national holiday, ...what? The facts aren't important? Shouldn't be talked about? Are best left alone? Not sure if I get your point in saying half of the people sleepwalk through everything - since it doesn't matter to half the people, it shouldn't matter to anyone...? If I follow this 'reasoning' to it's logical end.... well, in any case I don't follow.


Quote:

Secondly, anyone who really does celebrate Columbus Day for what it is, probably only celebrates the good things they believe they know about Columbus, so intentions are probably all good.


So, as long as the intent is good...? Still don't get your point. I guess people think they have good intentions for flying confederate flags too, but when the historic significance of the flag is brought up reasonable people can see the abomination aspect of it.

Quote:
And lastly, if we really knew the truth about most of the people and events we think we understand about history, I'm not sure we would have any holidays at all.


Really. I think this whole line of reasoning is kind of empty. If we knew the truth about most of history, we wouldn't hardly have anything to celebrate, so let's don't bother about some silly search for truth? I give you points for consistency, I guess.



snood
 
  3  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2015 11:40 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

I am not fan of Christopher Columbus... but I am also wary of unsourced quotes. I tried to find an actual source for a couple of these quotes, and I was unable to find any.

I question the historical accuracy of this little article.


You question the accuracy of this article, or you question the contention that Columbus was an unscrupulous, murderous fortune seeker and not a great hero discoverer?

In whichever case, here's a short bibliography of sources that support that the truth that Columbus is nothing that kids need to singing ditties about.

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/10/22/christopher-columbus-atrocity-sources-readers-asked-ictmn-delivers-151857
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2015 11:49 am
@snood,
There is an interesting question here, if we were to put 21st century ideas of morality onto the figures behind our holidays, which ones would survive?

Christmas would certainly go, as would president's day (because of slavery and what many people now consider rape). St Valentine was a proponent of child marriage. July Fourth celebrates a nation instituted on stolen land.

What would be left?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2015 11:51 am
Anyone with an American Indian-driven agenda is not what i'd call an unbiased source. At the same time, Columbus was certainly a fortune-hunter, but that makes him no better and no worse than most European explorers of his day. They sure weren't in it in the hope of burnishing a notional historical reputation in centuries to come.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2015 11:55 am
@snood,
Quote:
You question the accuracy of this article, or you question the contention that Columbus was an unscrupulous, murderous fortune seeker and not a great hero discoverer


I am specifically questioning the veracity of the quotes in the article... and the fact that there is not even an attempt to point to original sources should say something.

But I will go further...

Judging historical figures by 21st century social standards poses a big problem. History is complicated and our view of history is warped by the fact the we ourselves only have one cultural context to view it with.

It is very likely that your great grand-children will disapprove of some of the things that are happening now.... things that you think nothing of in the same way that you disapprove of Columbus.

I am not saying that this discussion shouldn't be had. I am saying that it is quite a bit more complex than the simple "Columbus is evil let's tear him down" narrative of articles like this.



maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2015 11:58 am
@snood,
This quote appeared in both of your articles, I suspect it is bogus...

Allegedly Christopher Columbus wrote:
With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.


If you can find me an original source (really any journalist or educator who uses a quote like this has an obligation to cite the original source) then I will feel a little better about the validity of these articles.
0 Replies
 
snood
 
  4  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2015 12:07 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Quote:
You question the accuracy of this article, or you question the contention that Columbus was an unscrupulous, murderous fortune seeker and not a great hero discoverer


I am specifically questioning the veracity of the quotes in the article... and the fact that there is not even an attempt to point to original sources should say something.

But I will go further...

Judging historical figures by 21st century social standards poses a big problem. History is complicated and our view of history is warped by the fact the we ourselves only have one cultural context to view it with.

It is very likely that your great grand-children will disapprove of some of the things that are happening now.... things that you think nothing of in the same way that you disapprove of Columbus.

I am not saying that this discussion shouldn't be had. I am saying that it is quite a bit more complex than the simple "Columbus is evil let's tear him down" narrative of articles like this.


I'm actually glad you brought up the "We can't judge historical wrongs by present day mores" argument, because I was just thinking it. And it is a good point. And I don't have any final definitive answer for it. Should the historic period when the genocide of 20 million Africans in the slave trade or 6 million Jews when the holocaust happened temper the present judgement on the evil of the acts? Or even more subtle, was the wrongness of denying full citizenship and suffrage to women less wrong because it was acceptable at the time? I don't know. But I do think that it's a little too easy to just brush off any discussion about historic evils with "It was acceptable at the time". Not saying anyone here is doing that, just saying.
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2015 12:22 pm
@snood,
Other than cultures closely related to your own 21st century Western Culture, tell me a culture that didn't do something that you would find barbaric? Genocide has been part of human experience on every continent since we started walking upright. I find it as horrible and inexcusable as you do (which is not surprising since you and I are culturally very similar) I am glad we are finally getting around to condemning it.

If we are going to judge all other cultures and times by our own, then every culture, from every part of the globe, is going to seem barbaric to us.

We have the ability to shape human experience in our own time. We aren't part of the past.



snood
 
  2  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2015 01:20 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

Other than cultures closely related to your own 21st century Western Culture, tell me a culture that didn't do something that you would find barbaric? Genocide has been part of human experience on every continent since we started walking upright. I find it as horrible and inexcusable as you do (which is not surprising since you and I are culturally very similar) I am glad we are finally getting around to condemning it.

If we are going to judge all other cultures and times by our own, then every culture, from every part of the globe, is going to seem barbaric to us.

We have the ability to shape human experience in our own time. We aren't part of the past.







Yes, if you read my last post you will see that I agree it's not an easy question - how much one can judge past events by present sensibilities. I agree, max . We don't have an argument there, ok?
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2015 11:05 am
Change is in the air (of two states):

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/12/christopher-columbus-sadist-there-shouldnt-be-a-holiday
0 Replies
 
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2015 11:11 am
Forgive me if this was stated in one of the previous posts, but didn't Columbus and/or his crew bring syphilis to North America or is this an urban myth? My understanding was that it was spreading across EU like wildfire before Columbus first journey so it was new and rampant in EU just prior to the first trip. As for cases in North America, it is unproven whether or not it existed to any degree in NA, but it clearly exploded in numbers of deaths once his 3 journeys were completed.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2015 11:51 am
@Ragman,
I don't remember reading that but it does make sense.

I've mild reading memory that the french brought it to italy, but don't trust my memory, as I don't. Where it originated? I might have known that once, but forget.
0 Replies
 
 

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