October 13 2008

Columbus Day – Year Four

Welcome to the fourth annual posting of this entry!  Long time readers can skip it, but as I keep adding more readers, it’ll keep getting posted!

Ah, Columbus Day, the day we set aside each year to celebrate a lie. It always warms my heart.

People tend to forget that Christopher Columbus wasn’t looking for North America when he landed here, he was looking for the West Indies. Quite the navigator there. He also believed, until his death, that the entire time he was in this area that he was exploring the Eastern coast of Asia.

Never mind the fact that he also took the indigenous people as slaves and shipped them back to Spain, against the Crowns wishes. Never mind that colonists he brought over here rebelled against him when the New World didn’t come close to what he described. No, no, all those things are just a-ok for a man we should honor with a governmental and banking holiday.

The biggest offense to me is that he was far from the first person to “discover” the Americas. (how does one “discover” a place that is already inhabited?) The Siberians crossed the land bridge with Alaska as early as 70,000 BC, and it was those crossings that gave us the Native Americans. There were numerous other occurrences of people coming to the Americas, but one of the most well documented was Leifur Eircksson in 1005 when he sailed from Iceland to North America and traveled down the coast. Gee, does that come before 1492?

Yet, history textbooks still hail him as the man who “discovered” America. Why is beyond me, but a friend pointed me to a wonderful book called “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong” (Barnes & Noble link) that spends an entire chapter delving into this very matter. Fascinating stuff.

If you want to credit Columbus with something, just say that he brought the America’s to the attention of Europe, but leave it at that.

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