I asked my first grader if she learned anything about Columbus Day yesterday. She looked at me with full head tilt confusion.
“Nina? Pinta? Santa Maria?” I asked. She just laughed as though I was speaking…well, Spanish…and said no. In previous years, my stepdaughter came home with the basic, “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue…” and the same stuff most of us were taught – Christopher Columbus discovered America.
It was not until I was in my late 20s I learned the truth about this Italian, Catholic “hero” deserving of a National Holiday. And since then, I am still a little surprised each year when I am reminded of this as the news casters wish their audiences a Happy Columbus Day or when I find my mailbox empty.
I really don’t think Columbus is much different than Saddam Hussein. Let me explain:
America invaded Iraq under the guise of eliminating their possible use of weapons of mass destruction. When it was reported that there were indeed no such WMDs, we stayed in Iraq and continued the attacks.
We were told Sadam Hussein needed to be stopped and whether or not WMDs existed, his atrocities did. Hussein committed unspeakable & violent acts against his own people. This was no secret to Americans and many of us were satisfied with the new motive because he was clearly a villain whom must be eradicated. From abductions to genocide to massacres, Hussein was guilty of the worst possible crimes against humanity. So when his hanging became a public display which could be even watched on an iPhone – the cheering was reminiscent of a winning soccer game.
I have a hard time reconciling the American reaction to the death of murderers like Saddam Hussein and the celebration of Christopher Columbus each October. After all, the acts Columbus committed were quite comparable to Hussein, if not worse.
Christopher Columbus traveled to the Bahamas which were inhabited by indigenous, peaceful people. The Lucayan, Taino and Arawak Indians risked their own lives rescuing the Europeans after the Santa Maria was shipwrecked. Columbus, himself,journaled that the hospitality of the Indians was remarkable. Not only did Columbus claim land which was clearly already discovered, the crimes he committed during his “discovery” were unspeakable. Perhaps SO unspeakable, our schools cannot teach the true story.
While I understand that telling children about his selling 10-year-old girls into sex slavery or killing Indian babies to use as dog food would be most inappropriate, I cannot for the life of me understand why our country still celebrates this horrific person. I mean, honestly, are we looking forward to a day when banks are closed for Hussein Day?