■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter
We’ve just celebrated “Columbus Day,” recently renamed “Indigenous People’s Day” throughout the land. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Columbus Day was more a celebration of Italian Americans and the Catholic Church than anything.
In the late ‘30s, prior to World War II, it became celebration of and for fascists, where the big to do took place on Columbus Circle in Manhattan’s Central Park South. Nothing about Christopher Columbus is worthy of a celebration in the western hemisphere. He dishonored both his Italian heritage and the Spanish Crown that sponsored his trips to a world that was not “new,” which in fact had been here thousands of years prior to 1492. According to modern historians he was a tyrant and backstabber to the gentle natives who welcomed him and his cohorts to their island paradises with open arms.
His four journeys across the uncharted sea routes from Spain to the islands between North and South America were not discoveries (only Europeans seem to think they discover everything outside the line of sight on the Atlantic Ocean, moving west).
Chris Columbus was quite the con man. He first tried his wiles on King John II of Portugal, in 1485, attempting to seduce the crown into financing his first voyage to the “East Indies,” somewhere across the Atlantic Ocean. Good King John and his adviser said, “No way, Jose.” Undeterred, he merely looked elsewhere – Genoa, Venice, and even Henry VII of England – seeking funds for what was generally seen as an adventure of fools.
Queen Isabella of Spain was apparently somewhat enamored with the ambitious seafarer from Genoa, but despite his charm and storytelling ability, her counsel was not seduced by what they considered, “a gross underestimate of the distance to Asia.” They urged Ferdinand and Isabella to not be taken in by Columbus.
However, greed for the riches to be found at the end of the rainbow, Isabella convinced her husband Ferdinand that if they didn’t take a chance, someone else might upstage them and deny Spain the spoils of the East Indies. So, in 1489 they furnished him a letter ordering all cities and towns under their domain to provide him food and lodging at no cost. However, that did not provide him the ability to proceed.
Day after day he lobbied the Spanish court. His efforts finally came to fruition. Strangely enough, it was not Isabella who caved, but Ferdinand. Columbus was actually leaving Cordoba by mule, having once again been denied by Isabella, when Ferdinand convinced Isabella to reconsider. She sent a royal guard to overtake him and thus eventually secure Spain’s rights to what would become the New World.
The crown went overboard. That day became the “Capitulations of Santa Fe.” The royal couple went all out, bestowing upon him the rank of Admiral of the Ocean Sea and appointed him viceroy and governor of all the new lands he could claim for Spain. Additionally, he would be entitled to 10 percent of all such lands in perpetuity, with the option to buy one-eighth interest in any commercial venture with the new lands and to receive one-eighth of the profits.
His first voyage nearly turned into a mutiny. It was only the call of “land ahoy” that prevented such an action. If not, he would probably have been taken prisoner and perhaps forced to walk the plank. In those days, unhappy seamen found little hesitation to dump a ship’s commander into a school of starving sharks.
After making port in San Salvador, he ruled like a tyrant. He kidnapped more than two dozen natives to take with him in chains back to Spain. Only eight actually survived the journey.
Throughout his four voyages, his pattern was consistent. He never set foot on the North American mainland. He sailed up and down the Central American Coast, creating mayhem and misery wherever he and his crew dropped anchor.
Columbus and his crew brought syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and numerous other social diseases to their “new world.” The history of murders, rapes and other horrifying assaults on his conquered are legendary, adding up to perhaps millions of deaths.
Columbus did not discover America, nor did Amerigo Vespucci, whose name was adopted for the Americas.
The Vikings preceded them to North America centuries earlier. More importantly, Native Americans inhabited the hemisphere thousands of years before any of the so-called “discoverers” were born.
With all that is known today about Christopher Columbus, if tried in an American Court, he would likely be put to death.
Little wonder that we will soon be celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
I was always taught that Columbus was our savior from the savages in the Western World. How screwed up history can be when taught by educators who don’t know any more than we do.