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Iron Ranger's view: Christopher Columbus not a man to be honored

Although many people in the 1400s believed Earth was flat, Cristobal Colon, also known as Christopher Columbus, thought Earth was pear-shaped. On his first voyage from Spain in August 1492, his pear-shaped calculations set him so far off-course t...

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Although many people in the 1400s believed Earth was flat, Cristobal Colon, also known as Christopher Columbus, thought Earth was pear-shaped.

On his first voyage from Spain in August 1492, his pear-shaped calculations set him so far off-course that he was looking for Southeast Asia (the East Indies) in the Caribbean. On Oct. 12, 1492, Columbus accidentally "discovered" Hispaniola, the second-largest island in the West Indies. Hispaniola now contains the two sovereign states of The Dominican Republic and Haiti. He never did "discover" America as he was given credit. He never at any time set foot on the land that is now the United States.

When Columbus landed at Hispaniola, thinking he was in the East Indies, he was met by a very timid group of people called the Taino "Indians." Jack Weatherford, a cultural anthropologist, a professor at Macalester College in St. Paul and the author of "Indian Giver," wrote that within four years of Columbus' arrival, his men killed or exported nearly half the original Taino Indian population of around 300,000 people. His men hunted Indians for sport and used their dead bodies as food for their dogs. Not only did they mutilate and enslave the Tainos, Columbus and his men introduced European diseases to the Indians. His landing on Hispaniola brought killer epidemics on a grand scale.

Weatherford further wrote that to pay the Spanish monarch for financing his voyage, Columbus captured 1,200 of the timid Tainos, loaded as many as he could onto his ships and set sail for Spain. The Tainos who died during the overcrowded voyage were thrown into the sea. Those who lived were paraded naked through the streets of Seville and enslaved.

Today, on Columbus Day, we in America honor this man.

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Even though I am proud to be Italian, I'm not going to pay any honor to the inept, bungling, murderer named Christopher Columbus. Even considering the context of his times, he was a monster.

To the misdirected Italians who started the initial push to make a federal holiday in honor to Columbus, I can only offer forgiveness, for they didn't know all the facts at the time. To those Catholic gentlemen who belong to the Knights of Columbus, I feel they should be ashamed to belong to an organization named for such a monster. To the writers of history books that portrayed Columbus as a bold, adventuring man: How much fun was it to deceive generations of young people? And to history teachers who distort facts or don't tell the whole truth about Columbus, I offer nothing but scorn.

I think we should do away with observing Columbus Day on Oct. 11 every year and dedicate the day to someone who is more deserving of honor.

Joseph Legueri of Gilbert is a writer, retired educator and lifelong resident of Minnesota's Iron Range.

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