Warning: This blog contains information about events that happened over 500 years ago. It acknowledges their existence and does not apologize. This blog contains humour, satire and ideas that could provoke thought and is intended for a sophisticated audience. Therefore, it may not be suitable for university sophomores or adults who act like them. Reader discretion is advised.
Shhh! (I wish my computer had a whisper font, but anyway…)
Yesterday was Columbus Day.
I know, I know: I’m pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable, but that’s just the way I roll. Besides, I have a burning need to set the record straight before Chris disappears from the North American landscape. (I’m lookin’ at you, Columbus, Ohio!) Here’s the deal. In my lifetime, Christopher Columbus has gone from being a determined, visionary explorer, willing to put his life on the line to expand the collective knowledge of the world to being – uh – an asshole. It’s a spectacular fall from grace. Unfortunately, the social justice lynch mob who dragged the guy off his pedestal and put the boots to him got the wrong man. Saying Columbus is responsible for the last 5 centuries of Western Hemisphere history is like saying a person who bought a ticket to get into the stadium is responsible for the football game. That’s idiotic!
First of all, Columbus only crossed the Atlantic four times, he probably never set foot on South America and sure as hell never get north of the Rio Grande. Secondly, the boy was basically lost. He always insisted that India was just over the horizon and had no idea there were two gigantic continents in the way. (It’s a good trick to be a total dick to millions of people when you don’t even know they exist!) And finally — and here’s where the vegan ate the liverwurst — the guy died in 1506. That was 10 years before Cortez showed up in Mexico, over 20 before Pizarro and his band of cutthroats visited the Andes and over 100 (that’s an entire century!) before Powhatan turned to Pocahontas and said, “You stay away from those Europeans! Mark my words, young lady: they’re going to be nothing but trouble!” The truth is Columbus was out of the rape and pillage business before it ever even got started.
So, how did Columbus become the supervillain of America history? One simple reason — convenience!
Deny it or not, in the 21st century, we’re wading in the shallow end of the intellectual swimming pool. Most people don’t know enough history to fill a mouse’s ear. Names like Coronado, De Soto and Mendoza mean nothing, and people are perfectly content to live with that ignorance. (After all, it’s a lot more fun to take a Facebook quiz about Disney Princesses than read a boring essay on dead Europeans!) However, there is one dead European everybody knows: Christopher Columbus. Meanwhile, when the good folks of North America recently found out that the indigenous people of this hemisphere have spent the last few centuries getting screwed, they started looking around for someone to blame. (In our video culture, the villains are clearly marked.) And take one guess who they looked at first? The only one they knew: Christopher Columbus. Ipso facto, he must be the bad guy.
So, so long Christopher Columbus; it’s been nice knowing you. In a few years, you’re going to be as forgotten as Olaf the Ugly, that unknown Norseman who actually got to North America.