Wednesday, October 12, 2005
The Day of Indigenous Resistance
October 12 is the day that Christopher Columbus landed on the island of San Salvador (Walting Island) in the Bahamas and claimed it for Spain. Although not the first person to sail to the Americas, Christopher Columbus is credited with opening up the passage to the Americas for others to explore, and to the chagrin of his many detractors, exploit. But what can't be pc'd away is the remarkable achievements of his four voyages to try and open a west-ward passage to the east. And once others followed, Columbus opened the way for Spain to be the richest and most powerful country for centuries.
One interesting note is the historical revisionism that Columbus has met over the last thirty years was perpetrated by none other than Hugo Chavez. In 1992 Chavez changed the name of 'Columbus Day' in Venezeula to 'The Day of Indigenous Resistance.' In 2004, Chavez sanctioned the destruction and desecration of Columbus statues which had been standing for over 100 years citing that he was quilty of 'imperialist genocide.' The attrocities committed by the Spanish against the natives of all of the islands and South America are well documented. While others did the deeds, Columbus is a unifying figure of political expediency for the likes of Chavez and many in the US and around the world.
In honoring the man and his times, I lift the following from the historian Warren H. Carroll:
Ultimately the American Indians as well as the Europeans benefited from Columbus’ great discovery. An interracial culture developed in much of Latin America, notably in Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. Human sacrifice and cannibalism were ended, and the Indians were almost all converted to Christianity. Large-scale evangelization began with the arrival of a group of Franciscans in Hispaniola in 1500 and continued steadily from then on. Though many Indians were long held in a state of virtual serfdom and some were forced contrary to law to work against their will for long periods of time in gold and silver mines, none were enslaved after the first colonial generation. Spanish law never recognized Indian slavery. And, back in Spain, a prolonged debate at the highest levels of Church and state finally convinced the highest authorities of both — the bishops and the King-Emperor Charles V — that the Indians had souls equal before God to the souls of white men, and rights equal before the law to the rights of any Spaniard.
Columbus was a flawed hero — as all men are flawed, including heroes — and his flaws are of a kind particularly offensive to today’s culture. But he was nevertheless a hero, achieving in a manner unequalled in the history of exploration and the sea, changing history forever. For some strange reason heroism is almost anathema to our age, at least to many of its most vocal spokesmen. But heroes and the inspiration they give are essential to uplift men and women; without them, faceless mediocrity will soon descend into apathy and degradation. Heroes need not be perfect; indeed, given the fallen nature of man, none can be perfect. It is right to criticize their failings, but wrong to deny their greatness and the inspiration they can give.
Christopher Columbus deserves to be honored now and forever.
Oh and BTW Listen up PC people I don’t owe anyone an apology either!
As for me, I'll take the heroes of native resistance over Columbus. I'll even take the hugely flawed Chavez over Columbus.
Both men are flawed, but both have their heroic traits, if you choose to look at them that way.
And this week we're going to give money, we’re going to give financial resources to these neighborhood committees, grassroots organizations, we’re going to give them technical resources, equipment, we are going to carry out the housing schemes, infrastructure schemes, water supply, electricity supply schemes. So this is a beautiful task we are conducting."
On his second trip he took 1600 of them as slaves. Many of these died along the voyage and others Columbus used as sex slaves. Which he dutifully recorded in his journal.
CR are you really so willing to focus solely on Chavez's flaws in the exact same post that you complete gloss over those of Columbus. They both have their faults and their qualities yet you seem to like to pick and choose the focus where it suits you.
Furthermore, it was hardly as if Columbus himself got a heck of a lot for his considerable trouble. He wasn't even aiming for America, remember. He was really convinced he landed in India. He died in disgrace when he failed to find any evidence of the great civilizations of Asia. If we must blame anyone for the "imperialist genocide" that followed, it ought to be the crown heads of Europe who decided to finance explorations of this new land. It wasn't like anyone was twisting their arms. Although frankly, why anyone ought to be blamed for beginning a course of action that ultimately resulted in the foundation of the United States and the rebirth of representative democracy I don't understand.
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