Today is the day we celebrate or honor the memory of Christopher Columbus, who according to all our childhood history books, discovered the Americas. Except he didn’t and we don’t celebrate that anymore it was a terrible tragedy…or so I’m told.
Yes, I know that “historically” or at least the way we want it told in the year 1492 Columbus did indeed sail the ocean blue, and he was looking for India. He totally did run into the Americas. Kind of a Holy Crap, who knew this damn thing was out here in the middle of my ocean? How will I find India now? Then again, if you are to believe the evidence and the historical record however, you will find that he was just the last in a long line of explorers going back to at least 1000 AD, confirmed, at the Norse settlement L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada. That would pre-date Columbus’ find by a good 500 years. Right. Yeah. But really he was the first European to start bringing regular trips back and forth from the New World. Making the best of a bad situation he returned to Spain with chili peppers, pineapple, tobacco, turkey, gold, and indigenous people. I like most of those things, although the kidnapping and possible slavery seem a bit much, but hey who are we to judge using our ethnocentric ruler. Columbus was a ground breaker for sure. Yet, he was a man so important we have no idea what he looked like. All those pictures and paintings…none done during his lifetime. But now I come to the tragedy part.
Some native American peoples gather to protest Columbus each year. They call him a genocidal maniac, and say things like “They were selfish and took everything we had our land, our food, and they poisoned us with small pox. Why do people have to treat Columbus like a god?” or “We don’t have our own day and we were here first.”
Here is the thing. Lesser advanced cultures always bow out to superior advanced cultures when it comes to a turf war. Bows and arrows were not match for gunpowder and armor. How many cultures in the history of man have been wiped out in the name of expansion or over a battle for land? The answer is countless cultures. It only happens to be that the native Americans are just the most recent, unless you count all the indigenous people who get displaced in South America. They are also the most vocal about it, whining over injustices that happened over 500 years ago like it was yesterday. Look, we held a war without telling you that lasted from about the time we landed colonies in the 1620’s until the 1890’s and you lost. It is nothing personal, but we exempted you from American citizenship like you wanted, gave you reservations, and now you have casinos, so I think it is time to get a nice suit with your headdress and make it rain dollars on the reservation with the slot machine dance. In other words, make the best of your situation, and quit whining about past injustices. We’re not here to make it all better for anyone. Recognition of someone elses bad deeds 500 years ago doesn’t make we want to apologize, I shrug and move on.
In return, I will celebrate the accomplishment of sailing over 2400 miles in three tiny wooden ships while having no way to accurately fix their longitude during the entire journey…then finding a problem, conquering it and returning home, again with no way to fix longitude, which is kind of important. Oh, and while you’re still complaining of the small pox the white man gave your people, which has been wiped out in the 20th century, we would like to thank the Native American people for the introduction of both tobacco and syphilis into our cultures, which have killed millions upon millions of people.
Happy Columbus Day!