Columbus: Friend or foe?

Claire Leanard, Staff Writer

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As long as America has been America there have always been twisted versions of how we came to be. Elementary school children learn that in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue, ultimately discovering a new world. In reality, he did discover new land, but it was only new to Europe. Many people were already there calling it home. Although Columbus did do a great thing, at the time, it also turned into a very awful part of our history. I personally believe that we shouldn’t celebrate Columbus Day because of what happened after the wash of conquistadors and other settlers. On the other hand, I still believe that we should acknowledge the fact that he did bring two worlds together despite the consequences of people abusing this new land and its people.

As we grow and advance in school, we learn that most of the things we have learned so far in the history of America is either barely true, very sugar coated, or just flat out false. The facts we learn as children pertaining to Columbus are not very important or are unverifiable. One of the very important things that textbooks do is that they downplay previous explorers. One example is Leif Erikson; he ventured to northeast Canada with the Norse people. He and many other explorers came across America, but they aren’t widely recognized. This has to do with the reactions from Europe when Columbus came back with the news of a new world. If Erikson or any other explorers had that kind of response then our history might have been very different and America would have a different ancestry. All in all, we praise Columbus for doing something that people have been doing for years, and the only difference is that people paid attention this time. This is one of the many reasons that our country should not celebrate Columbus Day.

Another reason is that although Columbus personally didn’t contribute to the mass genocide of the native people, his “discovery” still paved the way for others to believe that it is ok to treat the natives in an awful way. The murder of the Native Americans is one of the darkest parts of U.S. history and celebrating Columbus for allowing this mass murder is almost like a slap in the face of the surviving natives. It was horrible that the settlers pushed the natives westward into tiny communities to suit their needs of expansion. The settlers stole what the natives rightfully owned. The settlers and conquistadors also took part in spreading diseases, pillaging, and raping the native women (mostly conquistadors). This was huge because it killed thousands of natives and wiped out certain tribes that were vital to the nation.

All together, the aftermath of Columbus was horrific for all sides of the settling. This holiday is trying to misrepresent what happened in 1492 and after. “Lies my Teacher Told Me,” it states that most accounts of what happened didn’t actually happen that way at all. I believe that we should not celebrate something that we do not truly understand because we have not learned the solid truth. It’s almost as silly as celebrating Thanksgiving as one big feast when it really was actually a treaty signing. We as a people have come to accept this holiday as normal when it shouldn’t be. It’s praising a man for not really finding anything new and contributing to the genocide of the native people.

America should not celebrate Columbus Day, or if we do, we should not give it such special consideration. This country should not be lied to about its past by celebrating something that wasn’t all that great for a certain people. By continuing this praise, we are saying that what happened was acceptable and that we take no blame for the disastrous things done to the natives due to Europe’s desire to migrate.  

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