No one can deny that Columbus's discoveries of the unknown New World of the Americas had a long term impact on the indigenous people of those continents. It was Columbus's life-long mission to discover a shorter sea route to the Far East, not only to set up new trade routes, but also to find an unobstructed route to Jerusalem which was then occupied by the Muslims. Not only was he an incredible navigator that brought him safely to an unknown world, he was a devout Catholic and his devotion was to spread the word of Christ and teachings of the Holy Church.
It was never in this man's heart to brutalize, rape, or, as people have accused him, of creating purposeful genocide. This was a noble man who was nothing like the brutal character assassination that was attributed to him by Howard Zinn. This character assassination has unfortunately been repeated unwittingly by those who used just eight pages of Zinn's book to teach the life and times of Columbus. That's right, Zinn wrote just 8 pages of unmerciful lies and misinformation about Columbus in order to set the stage or purpose for his A People’s History of the United States to prove that the western World and later the United States were nothing more than executioners of all minority people.
Therefore, he had to persecute Columbus in those eight pages to justify his editorial writing of the history of our modern world.
Yes, it is true that almost 90 % of the indigenous native populations in the next 500 years after Columbus first stepped onto Hispaniola died of diseases that were brought here by explorers and settlers from Europe, but this happened because the Europeans carried diseases like Malaria and Smallpox to which the indigenous people had no natural immunity. There was no intent on the part of Columbus or any settlers to purposely inflict these diseases on the natives. This cannot be called an act of genocide, but instead is one more example of the Tragedy of History. The Black Death of 1345 to 1347, which had been transmitted from China, was responsible for killing 1/3 of the European population. (Sound familiar?) It was estimated that 25 million people died in a 5 year period! This was horrific, but should we blame China for this and accuse them of genocide? Of course not. It was due to microbes.
These facts are not meant to excuse the many broken treaties and wars against Native Americans by the United State government, but it is my point to bring some kind of intellectual precision into this historical discussion regarding Columbus.
Yes. There were atrocities against the Taino tribe’s people, but not by Columbus. He even allied with the tribes on Hispaniola against their natural enemies called the Caribs. Columbus’s descriptions and personal actions towards the Taino were to befriend them and treat them fairly. He also made efforts to baptize them into the Christian faith, which made it lawfully impossible to enslave any person who is a subject of Spain. He never forced them to dig gold and if they failed cut their hands off. These are lies and myths. He never owned any slaves which was a worldwide acceptable practice in every corner of the world in the 1600's. He never raped or condoned the raping of any Taino native people and punished his own men who at times rebelled and revolted against his authority. This is all recorded and documented by the Priest La Casa who wrote his own personal account of the Indies. He in fact attributed any such acts that were committed more to the Conquistadors that followed Columbus to this new world. I can also list multiple historical books of today that have supported my points in this paper and actually debunked Howard Zinn's 8 Pages of inaccurate characterization and acts by Columbus. (Such as: Debunking Howard Zinn Fake History by Mary Grabar, Columbus Hero Rafael Ortiz, Columbus and his Quest for Jerusalem by Carol Delaney, Admiral of the Sea by Samuel Morrison.)
The idea that we can blame Columbus personally for the many inhumane acts of wars and conflicts occurred because of clash of cultures and the introduction of diseases, is absurd and libelous.
Columbus is a legitimate historical figure that was a catalyst that did change the world for the many good things that developed with the discovery of the new world, as well as some unfortunate tragedies. That essentially describes the thousands of years of the history of the world that you can't lay at the feet of Columbus.
Yes, the Native Americans deserve to have their day of special recognition that proudly celebrates their culture, history, and heritage that is still a significant part of our Nation and society. This recognition can be formalized, but it does not have to be done at the expense and insult to the Italian American Communities who have so proudly associated themselves with Columbus for more than 120 years, since they first began to arrive in America as unwanted immigrants. It is unfortunate that people today do not understand the historical connection of Columbus to our grandparent’s generation that had to endure incredible oppression and bigotry when they first arrived in the United States that continued right up to and during world war 2. This emotional connection of pride to Columbus cannot be ignored if one is to truly understand why we defend Columbus against uninformed and misguided critics.
Also, since our nation's founding, we have honored Columbus by naming more cities, buildings and statues in the United States for him and his contribution to the world because of the development of our nation. Because of Columbus, the United States exists and has done more for the betterment of all people than any society or nation in the history of the world, regardless of Zinn's poisonous historical telling of the United States.
The energy spent and the efforts made by those who continue to use this man as their scapegoat to push their political agendas of today is unnecessary and unwarranted.
We are all better than that, and as I stated earlier, it is time to bring a more sensible effort of intellectual precision with simple truth.
VP Italian American Alliance