Posted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 11:09 am Post subject: Don't Forget the Native Indians and Slave Trade
On Columbus Day, Correcting Columbus' Legacy
by Mark Anthony Rolo
On Monday, Oct. 13, schoolteachers across the nation should find the courage to speak the truth about the man who sailed the ocean blue in 1492.
Trying to explain to youngsters how this country came to be is surely no easy task.
How can you sugarcoat telling a fourth-grader that Columbus did not "discover" the "new" world - that he more accurately opened the door to conquering it?
How do you explain to a fifth-grader that the only measurable blood spilled in Columbus' encounter was that of indigenous Caribbean islanders?
Can you even use the word "genocide" in a sixth-grade classroom?
There was a time in this country once when celebrating the feats of Columbus and his successors was less complicated. Only a generation ago, students did not learn the full extent of Columbus' impact on the peoples who inhabited this continent.
But let's set the historical record straight.
Hundreds of thousands of indigenous Taino Indians were raped, murdered, and forced into brutal slavery as a result of Columbus' conquest. Much of the Taino population fell to new diseases such as smallpox. Extinction is all that remains of the Taino today.
Those who like to honor Columbus would have us believe that bringing up the darker side of the explorer is an attempt to blow the man's memory off course.
But these facts of genocide and land theft are not part of a revisionist, false history. In his own words spelled, out in his personal diary, Columbus acknowledged his scheme to subjugate the Taino Indians: "I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I pleased."
Columbus' men rounded up 1,500 people and selected 500 as slaves to be shipped off to Spain. Two hundred died en route. This did not deter Columbus, who, according to historian Howard Zinn, later wrote: "Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold."
Some defenders of Columbus fall back on the rationale that he was just a man of his time, with the prejudices that prevailed. But one of Columbus' own contemporaries, Bartoleme de las Casas, a Spanish colonist turned priest, spent his last years trying to wash the indigenous blood from his hands by calling for an end to the slave trade.
This year many teachers may stress tolerance of opposing views as they try to bring a broader and more balanced view of Columbus' legacy into the classroom. But a lesson plan on tolerance won't do.
Putting an end to the hero worship of Columbus begins with telling the truth: Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 not to explore, but to conquer with domination, brutality and - yes - genocide.
Copyright 2008 The Progressive Magazine
Mark Anthony Rolo is an enrolled member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe in Wisconsin. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. A full and formal, explicit statement of apology
2. A Repatriation program to facilitate African descendants who want to return to and reintegrate in the continent from which over 10 million of their ancestors were stolen from their homes and forcibly transported to the Caribbean as enslaved chattel property
3. A Development Plan for Indigenous People, who numbered 3,000,000 in 1700 and were reduced to 30,000 only three centuries later in 2000 and who remain landless and poor, the most marginalized people in the region
4. Establishment of cultural institutions, such as museums and libraries, to memorialize the Europeans’ crimes against humanity in this part of the world
5. Europe accepting responsibility for and assisting in addressing the impacts of the region having the highest incidence of chronic diseases Hypertension and Diabetes Type Two in the world, which pandemics have been directly connected to the nutritional experience, physical and emotional brutality and overall stress profiles associated with slavery, genocide and apartheid.
6. Assistance in eradicating the remaining vestiges of illiteracy in the region, where 70 percent of the population was functionally illiterate when independence started to emerge in the 1960s and which continues to be a drag on social and economic advancement in the Caribbean
7. An action program to build "Bridges of belonging" (such as school exchanges and culture tours, community artistic and performance programs, entrepreneurial and religious engagements, etc.) to reassert a sense of identity an existential belonging and to build knowledge networks necessary for community rehabilitation
8. A program for the psychological rehabilitation of Caribbean people who have been for centuries denied recognition as equal human beings by laws derived from European palaces and parliaments
9. A technology transfer program to upgrade the Caribbean to modern scientific and technological standards following four centuries of a British edit that “not a nail must be produced” in the islands, to preserve their place as primary producers and exporters of raw materials
10. Support for payment of domestic debt and cancellation of international debt
It's not likely to go down well here, what with the drstic state the NHS has been intentionally driven into (in order to hive off profitable chunks to the 'Privateers').
But the cases against Britain, France and Spain are solid.
Interestingly, from the article, seems Cameron's family got big compensation in the past for lost slaves. _________________ 'And he (the devil) said to him: To thee will I give all this power, and the glory of them; for to me they are delivered, and to whom I will, I give them'. Luke IV 5-7.
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