Monday, October 10, 2005
international man of mystery
So today it's Columbus Day, a holiday of rather questionable value. While it's a commonly asserted notion that the guy was Italian and he 'discovered' America, the reality of it all is a bit harsher. The Internet's fount of knowledge, Wikipedia, has an excellent article about him clearly titled Christopher Columbus.
Probably the most bothersome thing about the guy were the prescendents set in dealing with Native peoples of the New World. It's probably a good thing that celebration of Columbus Day is now a muted event, given the historical facts. Some of the more disturbing acts by Mr. Columbus (quoted from the article):
Cheery stuff, right?
When I was a student back in elementary school, it's funny how none of these things were ever discussed, except the issue of disease.
Though it never occurred to me back then as a kid, I can see now that in fact there was an over-emphasis on the role that disease played in European-Native interactions. Since most of my teachers never taught me to think critically about what I was reading, it's only now that I can see the facts for what they are - that disease, by itself, was not the sole culprit of the next few centuries of Native extinction. History books and the American public don't like the implication that there is (white) European responsibility in the death of Native Americans - disease is the cover to hide the fact that there was a willful and systematic intent to exploit and kill all non-European peoples they "discovered". Those details became glossed over because the history I was taught as a student came from eyes of the conquerors rather than the conquered.
If I'm ever charged with teaching American history, you can bet that I won't repeat the same mistake that happened when I was a student. My kids will be reading books like A People's History of the United States, fo sho.
Great stuff! Our Columbus day entries complement each other quite well.
I think next year, I'm going to take a camping raft out on Lake Michigan and "discover" Evanston. I hear they have gold and shit up there...
oooh. howard zinn. the textbook of my US history education.Post a Comment
tanks for the encouragement.
oooh...and guess who i've run into? lika, jenny lau, and david from our brazil team. crazy, eh?