Deborah Menkart, Teaching For Change/Zinn Education Project & Daniel Ruiz, Capital City Public Charter School, joins Thom. On Monday – millions of Americans will stay home from work and school to celebrate how Christopher Columbus committed genocide against the Taino people and launched the Transatlantic slave trade. Unfortunately – many Americans won’t know that it’s a celebration of genocide – because many Americans still don’t realize what actually happened when Columbus quote “discovered” America. Fortunately there are efforts moving forward across the country to celebrate “Indigenous People’s Day” instead of Columbus Day – with Phoenix, Arizona being the most recent city to recognize Indigenous People’s Day.
Once again, it’s time to celebrate Columbus Day. Yet, the stunning truth is: If Christopher Columbus were alive today, he would be put on trial for crimes against humanity. Columbus’ reign of terror, as documented by noted historians, was so bloody, his legacy so unspeakably cruel, that Columbus makes a modern villain like Saddam Hussein look like a pale codfish.
Question: Why do we honor a man who, if he were alive today, would almost certainly be sitting on Death Row awaiting execution?
If you’d like to know the true story about Christopher Columbus, please read on. But I warn you, it’s not for the faint of heart.
In the year 1992, the celebration of Columbus Day was different from previous ones in two ways. First, this was the quincentennial, five hundred years after Columbus’ landing in this hemisphere. Second, it was a celebration challenged all over the country by people—many of them native Americans but also others—who had “discovered” a Columbus not worth celebrating, and who were rethinking the traditional glorification of “Western Civilization.” I gave this talk at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in October of 1991. It was published the following year in the Open Magazine Pamphlet Series with the title “Christopher Columbus & The Myth of Human Progress.”