October 14, 2014

Christopher Colombus

Christopher Colombus

Right up to our own time, Western men believed with Columbus that their Christian faith and their civilization were superior. Today, Columbus is denounced and rejected because he acted in his belief that the indigenous peoples he encountered should be converted and ruled by Europeans. Columbus rejected the idea of equality.

Yet how far from his view were Washington, Jefferson, Madison and James Monroe, slaveholders all. How far from Columbus’ view was Andrew Jackson? Was Jackson’s treatment of African-Americans and the indigenous peoples of Florida so different from that of Columbus?

Gen. Philip Sheridan, to whom Sherman gave command of the West, volunteered, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” His troopers often acted upon that belief.

The Spanish Empire, the British Empire, the French Empire, the United States all rose to power and greatness, motivated by a belief in the superiority of their race, tribe, religion, culture and country. All believed their innate superiority conferred upon them a right to rule what Kipling called “the lesser breeds without the law.”

How else, these men would ask us, does civilization progress, if not through the imposition by superior men of superior ideas? What great nation, what great empire, what great civilization ever rose on a belief in the equality of all other peoples and all other faiths?

The United States, among the largest countries on earth, from sea to shining sea was carved out of lands seized from native peoples by Spanish, British, French, and Russian conquerors first, then taken by us.

We are the heirs of marauders, pirates, conquerors, colonizers, colonialists, and imperialists. And such knowledge is why so many have guilty consciences and seek to salve them by repudiating Columbus.

As they say in Seattle, Happy Indigenous People’s Day.


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