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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Happy Columbus Day--Was He a Hero?


        Should we stop honoring Christopher Columbus?   That's what some people have said.  Certain groups have called for the day to be in the future called "Indigenous People's Day."   The argument points out all of the cruel treatment, enslavement, and death brought to the peoples who already inhabited the land that Columbus "discovered."   He was certainly responsible for many tragic outcomes for those that he called "Indians", believing that he had arrived in the East Indies.

US Postage stamps: Columbian issues of 1893,
         
          When I was a child we celebrated Christopher Columbus and his great adventure to the New World.  The story was sanitized for the consumption of school children and indeed much was probably known only to history scholars.   On the whole, Columbus was revered with poems, books, and artworks.  Now in recent decades Columbus has been portrayed as a villain, an opportunistic European who took advantage of his conquered lands.  

           The way I see it is that we are dealing with history--events that cannot be changed and therefore should be accepted for what they are.   We cannot fairly judge those in the past according to the standards of our time.  The voyages of Columbus were amazing and courageous.   Christopher Columbus set the groundwork for the settling and development of the United States of America.

           I think Christopher Columbus deserves every accolade that is handed his way.   Unfortunately a trend to revise history often seems to be the rule of our time.   Revisionist history is one of the most deceptive and misguided movements coming out of the realms of academia.   Tear down the old heroes and replace them with some ambiguous ideal standard of lifestyle that was eradicated by those evil explorers,colonizers, Founding Fathers, and many others who came before us.

           Changing the players, events, and mindsets in order to create a new narrative is what it comes down to.  Sounds kind of like what our media does on a regular basis.  "History is written by the victors," is the oft heard claim.  Perhaps now we can more appropriately say that the media are the historians of our time.   This strikes me as a somewhat disturbing thought considering the questionable honesty of most media sources.   Or should I say selective honesty?

             Do you think that Christopher Columbus deserves to be honored?    Is history being tampered with too much in order to present a more politically correct view of the past?   Do you believe that media is trustworthy or does it exhibit a bias that influences many people in making important decisions like who to vote for?  

Happy Columbus Day!


  

48 comments:

  1. Yes Lee, I do think Christopher Columbus should be be remembered, he made a great impact on the world.
    Wonderful read and an interesting subject.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Yvonne, if Columbus hadn't done what he did then I'm sure someone else would have.

      Lee

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  2. Maybe honored isn't the right word. By the standards of today, much of what he did was not honorable. But by the standards of the time he lived in, he was a brave adventurer. My answer is that he should be remembered and celebrated for who he was and what he did, and all of it should be told. That he was a discoverer AND a product of the time he lived in. As are we all.


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    1. Ms Hatch, remembered? I don't know that changing the wording changes much. As I mentioned I don't think it's fair to hold people from the past to our standards (if indeed we are that much better). I don't know that we ever honored the man for who he was, but it was always in context of what he did. I think it should stay this way.

      Lee

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  3. Yeah, way too many are trying to bring life of the past to the now. Stupid. One day they'll change the moon landing because they'll find they stepped on space bugs, whoopsy.

    Pffft people are way too busy trying to change the past to not hurt anyone's little feelings instead of learning from it. Screw the stupid media too. All about ratings. If you get offended by something that happened hundreds of years ago and never directly effected you, in most cases, one needs to get a grip, preferably of something with a little electricity running through it lol

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    1. Pat, some people are convinced that the moon landing never happened. I think you hit spot on in the reference to "feelings." So many today are wrapped up in how they feel about things rather than the facts of what happened. When we change facts then we are lying.

      Lee

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  4. You bet the media does that!
    Marcy is right - remembered is a better word than honored. Finding America was one of the biggest game changers in history. That moment should be remembered. Besides, we don't know when the natives discovered it.
    I wonder if Australia has a holiday equivalent to Columbus Day?

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    1. Alex, maybe the revisionists in Australia have already erased the "discoverer" of that continent from the collective historical memory.

      Lee

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  5. What a beautifully written post! I agree with all of it. Another thing that came to my mind is that all the pc people wouldn't even be alive today if it wasn't for Christopher Columbus...or if somehow they WERE alive, they could be living in a horrendous country without all the freedoms they've enjoyed all these years!! As far as I know, time travel has NOT been invented yet, so we can't go back and change the way things happened.

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    1. Becky, a parallel universe where the U.S.A. never existed is not a place that I'd want to live in. But I guess we'll never know what it might have been.

      Lee

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    2. Oh, gosh, I wouldn't want to live in that place either!

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  6. Great post and I completely agree. We cannot re-judge people and events from history with hindsight, he achieved remarkable things and is celebrated for it. And it is important to remember he was merely human. Many of my historical heroes are vilified to this day in the British Isles however we often judge them by todays standards and forget that they were humans, often doing what they thought best.

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    1. Dancin, I wonder how future generations will judge those of our time? That is, if there are future generations.

      Lee

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  7. He sailed west at a time when people thought he would fall off the edge of the earth and lived to tell the tale. That seems pretty noteworthy, I don't care who you are.

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    1. John, anyone who heads off into the unknown should be credit for that accomplishment alone.

      Lee

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  8. Columbus was lost. Back in 1992 when I lived in SF, I participated in a protest with the American Indian Movement to stop the reenactment of Columbus' landing. There were a few thousand of us at the Marina area with signs and yelling, etc. The ships saw us, turned around and abandoned it. Victory! I don't see why we need a day off for Columbus, nor do I think it should be called Indigenous People's day. 9/11 should be observed now.

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    1. JoJo, back in 1492 with limited means to find oneself geographically it was probably easy to be or at least feel lost. Maybe a collective day of remembrance could appease many groups like was done in the case of Presidents' Day.

      Maybe we should just have every Monday as a different day of observance. More sales, more holidays.

      Lee

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  9. I was surprised to learn many people in the U.S. are opposed to celebrating Columbus Day. It's true, the Spaniards who came to North America caused much grief, (Hernando Cortez and the Aztecs, for example), but without Columbus, where would we be today? Food for thought...

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    1. Debbie D, there is a bizarre movement in the U.S. (and perhaps elsewhere) to revise history to reflect what certain opinions of today are. I don't agree at all with revisionist history. As it stands now, history is immensely interesting and we shouldn't try to turn it into a lie to appease the snowflakes.

      Lee

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    2. You can't revise history. It is what it is, both good and bad! I've never heard of this being done and hope it's not wide-spread.

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    3. Having studied the European Age of Discovery many decades ago, and kept studying so realising that History does get revised as more knowledge emerges. I'd prefer to see Leif Eriksson celebrated.

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    4. Roland, when I was in school in the sixties we were told that Eriksson and others made it to North America and likely even established settlements. Though the Norse explorers may have assimilated into the indigenous cultures that were already living in this "new world", they did not establish any culture that grew from there initial settlements. However, after the arrival of Columbus Europeans settled throughout the Americas and we have what we have now from that beginning. I think that is why we recognize the achievements of Eriksson, but celebrate what Columbus did.

      Lee

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  10. In retrospect, the European explorers who "discovered" new lands all over the world, and essentially took them away from the people who were already living there, is appalling. But considering the times in which those things actually happened, those explorers were remarkably brave adventurers. History isn't something that should be re-invented to better suit today's sensibilities; it is supposed to be an account of what happened. So to answer your question, yes, I think we should still acknowledge Columbus for his enormous sense of adventure, and for his willingness to sail off into the unknown to set things in motion that eventually led to the birth of our country.

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    1. Susan, Great answer. Not too much to argue with in context of my question. Thank you!

      Lee

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  11. People tend to forget Columbus was a man of his time, and should be saluted AS a man of his time. He did what no one else had the vision to do. And if it led to others who twisted the dream? Oh, sure, that was on him. Maybe he shouldn't be honored with a special day, because there are an awful lot of people that did amazing things that don't have days either. But he sure shouldn't be given the bum's rush for what he DIDN'T do. As for an indigenous people's day? Have at it, there are five "national days" occurring every day of the week. Good luck getting noticed.

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    1. CW, exactly! The people of Columbus's time had a different outlook about the way the world should work. They undoubtedly believed what they were doing was right. And if one takes the view of Manifest Destiny what Columbus did was just the way of the future of a great new nation.

      Lee

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  12. To be honest, as a kid I was disappointed and dismayed to learn of the fate of the first Americans. Throughout history and until the end of time humans will make mistakes. But if not for Columbus there would be no America and no amount of consternation for what happened afterward will ever change that. Give the fella his due!
    With the exception of a scant few, the media have become the lecherous clowns of society. It's what happens when you put an editorialist in front of a camera - precious change in a politician's pocket.

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    1. Diedre, I didn't hear about the fate of the Indians until after I got to college. Before that every thing I knew I "learned" from the movies--more misleading info.

      Love your quote about the media! So true.

      Lee

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  13. He set sail at a time when many perished at sea and most had no idea what lay ahead. Even if the Vikings were the first ones to land in North America, i think he should still be recognized. I am sick of all this political correctness. No person is a wonderful saint...King jnr did have affairs but he is still a great man. Ben Franklin was into body snatching-when it seemed aok to do autopsies but ran out of bodies so some illegal work went into getting the bodies. I just wish people who love to point fingers and say how unjust the other is should just back up and look at the whole picture.

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    1. Birgit, now I'm just thinking about the Ben Franklin body-snatching story. Wonder if anyone has done a horror story or something based on this history. Sounds like some fine material for a book.

      Yeah, I'm all for toning down the holier-than-thou stuff as people are schisming farther and farther apart.

      Lee

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  14. I think Columbus should be recognized for his feats. Revisionist history just gives some people an excuse for a book. On the other hand, there is the Black Legend of Spanish colonialism.

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    1. Pop Tart, I'd rather read real history than revised history, but I can imagine some interesting stories and conspiracies about anything. Fun is fine if we know it's a fiction, but what is conveyed as truth I would like to be true.

      Lee

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  15. History and culture has already been revised to apply the skewered p.c. values of today. Why should this be any different?

    Example: I was listening to a college radio program in the late 90's and they had a segment called "Biblio Babe" in which someone reviewed a book they had read. This person read one of the "Babar the Elephant" books, and both her and the host proceeded to trash the book by applying today's extremely warped p.c. values to a book that was written/illustrated back in the 30's/40's. You simply can't retro apply your warped values of today to stuff that happened several decades ago. The values of then are radically different from the values of today. They are both incompatible.

    Btw, this same DJ once played a fave song of his when he was younger (Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix) then proceeded to trash it by calling it sexist, misogynist, etc. and publicly questioned himself as to why he liked it.

    Father Nature's Corner

    I Are Writer!

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    1. GB, future generations will have plenty to trash in the entertainment and "art" of our time. Sure, we can apply judgement to the creative output of the past, but we don't have to read, watch, and listen to it if it offends or upsets us. The sixties were a crazy time in many ways, but maybe not much more so than the Roaring Twenties or the music, movies, and literature of the past few decades.

      Lee

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  16. Is it to present a more "politically correct" or a more historically accurate view of history? I think that is the critical difference.

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    1. Kathleen, the aim to discredit an achievement seems to be more based on political correctness or revisionism than the reportage of what happened in context of the times.

      Lee

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  17. Interesting you should bring this up. My daughter was just commenting that Columbus was a rapist and should not be honored. I really don't know the answer to that. He wasn't the first to discover the new world, but he did exhibit bravery in taking the risk to try to find a new trade route.

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    1. Sherry, certainly many controversies surround Columbus and many of the other explorers and settlers. However the individuals should be named along with their achievements. It's perfectly legitimate to add the bad things to the conversation in order to have a greater understanding of the events, people, and times. We should give credit where it is due and point out the flaws as well if we are delving deeper into the history.

      Lee

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  18. Clearly a controversial post Arlee! I've heard both sides of the Columbus story. Tt reminds me in a different vein of how complicated is our history in South Africa and depending who's telling the story and what I've learned and what I need to UNlearn and so on, in order to get a truer picture if this is what interests me.

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    1. Susan Scott, the agenda has become the message that eradicates whatever actually occurred. If agendists want to include how they feel about something that is fine as long as they present the truth as well as other sides of the argument. If their agenda wasn't at the forefront when an event occurred then it's not really a viable part of explaining what happened. The whys can be part of speculation and maybe even part of the story if there is evidence to support the opinion.

      Lee

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  19. As a government worker, I'm not going to protest them giving me an extra Monday off. But since you bring up how people make him the villain, I have to share The Oatmeal which paints a gruesome picture of his adventures. But it was a different time back then.

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    1. Loni, true that there are misconceptions regarding the whys and wherefores of the endeavors of Columbus, but the essence of what he did and what those actions lead to are of importance to the eventual founding of the U.S.A. There are usually good as well as bad sides to everything, but we have to step back to look at the totality and judge accordingly. Sometimes the judgement is based on who we are and where our agenda lies. Personally, I have no complaint against the achievements of Columbus even though I'm aware of the immoral aspects of how he proceeded along the way. Overall, I think the U.S.A has a great history, but as with any history there are flaws.

      Lee

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  20. Columbus is not a hero. Teaching about him every year revealed more about "what happened next". Death from disease and genicide cursed the natives when Columbus arrived and planted the Spanish flag.

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    1. Susan, I understand what you're saying and maybe "hero" is not the right word. However his name should not be stricken from historical record. There were a lot of bad things that resulted from the coming of the Europeans and the subsequent settlement of the Americas. Wrong or right, it happened and now we're here. I'm glad I'm here though the entire process could have be handled different. It wasn't and now so it is.

      Lee

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  21. Today's people can't even begin to appreciate what Columbus and other pioneers did. We can't even imagine going someplace new without a GPS, a cell phone, a credit card and God knows what other safety nets.

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    1. Tamara, it amazes me when I hear the stories recounted of what people when through in the past. Most of us have grown so soft in our time. A lot of people did some bad things in the past, but they sure put up with a lot of hardship to do them. Everybody back then dealt with hardship by our modern day standards.

      Lee

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