Imagine that the man who tortured, raped and murdered innocent people and then robbed them of their homes is worshipped as a hero each year. Well, imagine no more because that’s the outlandish racist genocide Christopher Columbus committed and the outlandish racist evil Philadelphia celebrates.
On Oct. 12, 1492, Columbus, financed by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, arrived at the Bahamian island of what he referred to as San Salvador. By the way, he didn’t “discover” the so-called New World or America. In fact, the red people, i.e., Taino, were here 14,000 years before his 1451 birth.
After his arrival in 1492, he sailed to what he labeled Espanola — today’s Haiti and the Dominican Republic — in the inept belief that he had discovered a shortcut to India. But he was thousands of miles off course. Not long afterward, in order to get more royal financing, he returned to Spain with his great, but false, news that he had found a quick route to Asia. As a result, he received funding to lead three more voyages to the so-called Americas, occurring in 1493, 1498 and 1502. But his monetary heaven would become the red people’s monumental hell.
Contrary to the King and Queen’s order that he “abstain from doing … (the inhabitants) any injury,” he engaged in nightmarish savagery. For example, he created in 1495 the “tribute system,” which required every Taino over 14 to provide him and his appointees with a “hawk’s bell” of gold every three months. Those who complied were given a “token” to wear around their necks. Those who didn’t, as Columbus’ son Fernando reported, were “punished by having their hands cut off” and were “left to bleed to death.” About 10,000 persons in Haiti and the Dominican Republic suffered such cruelty.
Many of the indigenous people were, while alive, “roasted on spits (i.e., slender pointed rods) … and burn(ed) … at the stake …” and the invaders “hack(ed) the … children into pieces ...” Columbus’ men also would “make bets as to who would slit a man in two or cut off his head at one blow … or they opened up his bowels. They tore the babes from their mother’s breast by their feet and dashed their heads against the rocks … They ‘splitted’ the bodies of other babes, together with their mothers … on their swords.” In one incident, a Columbus underling “drew his sword. Then the whole hundred drew theirs and began to rip open the bellies, to cut and kill a group of Taino ...”
As noted by Spanish historian and Catholic priest Bartolome de las Casas, who witnessed much of the carnage, Columbus, in order “to test the sharpness of their blades,” directed his men “to cut off the legs of children who ran from them.” When a couple of them “met two ‘Indian’ boys …, each carrying a parrot, they took the parrots and for fun beheaded the boys.” His crew also would “pour … people full of boiling soap.” In addition, people were “eaten (alive by) … hunting dogs … (that) were turned loose ...” Many other of these red human beings were “buried alive ...” And if Columbus’ crew ran out of meat for their vicious dogs, “Arawak babies were killed for dog food.”
There’s more. A Columbus shipmate, Miguel Cuneo, wrote that, “When our caravels … were to leave for Spain, we gathered … 1,600 male and female ‘Indians’ and these embarked (with us) … on February 17, 1495 … For those who remained, we let it be known (to the Europeans who manned the island’s fort) … that anyone who wanted to take … them could do so ...” Cuneo took a teenage “Caribbean girl as a gift from Columbus.” And when she “resisted …, (he) thrashed her mercilessly and raped her.”
Speaking of rape, it was pointed out by University of Vermont history professor James Loewen that, “As soon as the 1493 expedition got to the Caribbean, before it even reached Haiti, Columbus was rewarding his lieutenants with native women to rape. On Haiti, sex slaves were one more prerequisite that … (they) enjoyed.” And it included adult rape and child rape. As Columbus himself wrote in 1500, “… girls… from 9-10 … are … in demand.”
His evil was so efficient that when he arrived in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean islands in 1493, there were 8 million Taino. That number, within a mere three years, was reduced to just 3 million. And by the time Columbus left in 1504, only about 100,000 remained alive.
Columbus’ evil was so outrageous that Governor Francisco De Bodadilla arrested him for inhuman and widespread crimes against the Taino/Arawak population and shipped him back to Spain in shackles. The evidence was so overwhelming that Columbus confessed and was convicted. Debilitated by “gout, rheumatoid arthritis and possibly malaria,” he died in 1506 at age 54.
In one single day, de las Casas saw Columbus’ soldiers “dismember, behead or rape 3,000 natives.” As a result, he was moved to write that, “my eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature that now I tremble as I write.” So do I, de las Casas. So do I. But my trembling is the result of rage directed at city officials who celebrate this monster.
Philadelphia City Council continues to annually celebrate this mass murderer, including last year with Resolution No. 140733 (and a 2015 version within the next few days), “commemorating Columbus’ historic voyage to the New World …” But evil must not be celebrated. That’s why Seattle City Council on Oct. 6, 2014, unanimously changed “Columbus Day” to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” which is similar to what Minneapolis City Council did six moths earlier. And Berkley City Council officially stopped recognizing Columbus Day back in 1992. By next year, Philadelphia must join in and celebrate humanity instead of inhumanity. And we can force our City Council to do so. Call or email Avenging The Ancestors Coalition (215-552-8751 and ATAC@avengingtheancestors.com) and leave your name, number and email address if you’re interested in petitioning City Council to finally stop celebrating racist genocide.