coard

This engraving by Joos van Winghe and Theodor de Bry depicts the atrocities committed by Spanish explorers on the indigenous people of the Caribbean as described by Bartolome de las Casas.

— Photo from Peace Palace Library, The Netherlands

The only reason anyone would celebrate Columbus Day on October 12 (or any other day) is that person believes the genocide of Red/Brown people is a good thing or that person knows absolutely nothing about history and geography.

A day celebrating Christopher Columbus (born Cristofor Colombo) is not only a day celebrating racist genocide. It’s also a day celebrating massive land robbery, barbaric slavery, child/adult serial rape, systemic torture, and cultural obliteration.

Precisely 528 years ago, Columbus arrived on the Bahamian island of what he referred to as San Salvador on October 12, 1492. By the way, he never set foot in America- so how then could he have discovered it? He couldn’t. And he didn’t.

Well, why is he celebrated as the discoverer of America? Even better, why is he even celebrated at all? I’m glad you asked. Here’s why.

The first official Columbus Day was celebrated in 1792 in New York by the shamelessly corrupt Tammany Hall on the 300th anniversary of his fake arrival in America. One hundred years later in 1892, President Benjamin Harrison issued a 400th anniversary proclamation. And in 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Columbus Day a national holiday and heralded the lie of Columbus as the man who discovered America.

As an aside, it should be noted that Roosevelt did this in response to years of relentless and aggressive political lobbying from the Knights of Columbus, a powerful Catholic fraternal organization, that wanted to change America’s discriminatory attitude toward recently arrived Italian immigrants. And the most allegedly persuasive argument used by the Knights of Columbus was a widely popular strongly pro-Columbus book entitled “A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus” by Washington Irving in 1828. But there was a big problem. It was total fiction and mythology as thoroughly exposed in 1983 by University of New Orleans International Studies Professor John D. Hazlett in “Literary Nationalism and Ambivalence in Washington Irvin’s The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus.” In addition to Hazlett’s scholarly critique, New York University Data Science Professor Foster Provost in “Columbus: An Annotated Guide to the Scholarship on His Life and Writings” described in 1991 Irvin’s book as a work of “active imagination” that is “fanciful and sentimental.”

Contrary to President Roosevelt’s proclamation, I must point out that Columbus didn’t “discover” America or the so-called New World. In fact, Red/Brown people, i.e., Taino, Arawak, and Lucayan, were living on this land and in the so-called New World 14,000 years before Columbus’ 1451 birth.

After his arrival in 1492, Columbus sailed to what he labeled Espa-ola, which is 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.

I should mention that the only reason the indigenous Red people in the so-called New World (and in this country) are commonly but erroneously called “Indian” is Columbus mistakenly thought he had arrived in India and therefore arrogantly- like Europeans do- imposed a name on them. By the way, the correct name is Ongweoweh, an Iroquois word meaning “the original people.” So let’s start calling them that, dammit.

Not long after Columbus’ incompetent Gilligan’s Island-type arrival/invasion, and in order to get more royal financing from Spanish King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, he returned to them with his exciting, but completely false, news that he had found a quick route to Asia. Accordingly, he received funding to lead three more voyages to the so-called Americas, occurring in 1493, 1498, and 1502. And during that 1493 voyage, he brought a fleet of 17 ships with 1,200 men for his malicious purpose of enslaving Red/Brown people and robbing them of their land and resources.

I referred to Columbus as a Gilligan-type moron because he was. Did you know he actually thought the earth was shaped like a “pear?” Well, he did. And did you know he actually thought it had a “nipple” on top? Well, he did. Also, did you know he actually thought that “nipple” was the East- i.e., Asia- where he incorrectly assumed he had arrived? Well, he did.

The historically documented record is clear. Columbus is definitely one of the worst genocidal racists- if not absolutely the worst genocidal racist- in human history.

When the Spanish king and queen ordered that he “abstain from doing… [the indigenous inhabitants] any injury,” he completely ignored that order. For example, he created in 1495 the “tribute system” requiring every person over 14 to provide him with a “hawk’s bell” of gold dust every three months. Those who complied were given a copper disk “token” to wear around their neck. Those who didn’t comply, as Columbus’ own son Fernando reported, were “punished by having their hands cut off” and “left to bleed to death.” About 10,000 in Haiti and the Dominican Republic were victimized in that manner.

And 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….” Also, Columbus’ men “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.”

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.” His crew would “pour… people full of boiling soap” and cause others to be “eaten [alive by]… hunting dogs….” And if Columbus’ brigade ran out of meat for their vicious dogs, “Arawak babies were killed for dog food.”

A Columbus shipmate, Miguel Cuneo, wrote that “When our caravels… were to leave for Spain, we gathered… 1,600 male and female ‘Indians’… on February 17, 1495… [and] we let it be known… that... [any of the sailors] 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 noted by University of Vermont History Professor James Loewen that “As soon as the 1493 expedition got to the Caribbean..., Columbus was rewarding his lieutenants with native women to rape. On Haiti, sex slaves were one more prerequisite that… [they] enjoyed.” It included adult rape and child rape. As Columbus himself wrote in 1500, “… girls… from 9-10… are… in demand.” In one day, de las Casas saw Columbus’ soldiers “dismember, behead, or rape 3,000 natives.” As a result, de las Casas wrote, “My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature that now I tremble as I write.”

Columbus’ wickedness was so efficient that when he arrived in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and other Caribbean islands in 1493, there were eight million Taino. That number, within a mere three years, was reduced to just three million. By the time he left in 1504, only about 100,000 remained alive. Throughout his four voyages, he murdered approximately eight million Red/Brown people, raped and tortured millions, robbed millions of acres of land, and obliterated ancient civilizations.

Columbus not only pioneered a new form of mass murder, he also pioneered a new form of slavery, which he transformed into a race-based and generational form of brutal labor. In fact, as documented by Loewen, “Columbus not only sent the first ‘slaves’ across the Atlantic, he probably sent more ‘slaves’- about five thousand- than any other individual.”

Columbus’ atrocities were so outrageous that Spanish Governor Francisco De Bodadilla- based on the testimony of 23 eyewitnesses- arrested him for inhuman and widespread crimes against the Taino/Arawak/Lucayan population and shipped him back to Spain in shackles. The evidence was so overwhelming that Columbus confessed and was convicted.

Instead of celebrating arguably the world’s worst genocidal monster and rapist on October 12, ask some of this country’s wonderful Italian-Americans for a list of the names of some of the world’s greatest Italians and Italian-Americans. I’m sure that list will feature hundreds, including the following:

Amerigo Vespucci- the first European to recognize North and South America as distinct continents and to realize (unlike Columbus) that the so-called New World was not part of Asia.

Antonio Santi Giuseppe Meucci- the real inventor of the telephone as acknowledged by the U.S. Congress.

Guglielmo Marconi- the Nobel Prize-winning electrical engineer and physicist who is validly credited as the inventor of the radio.

The vast majority of Italians and Italian-Americans are not racist or ignorant or both. Neither are Red people, Brown people, Black people, or Yellow people.

That’s exactly why none of us should celebrate Columbus on October 12 or any other day.

Michael Coard, Esquire can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as at AvengingTheAncestors.com. His “Radio Courtroom” show can be heard on WURD96.1-FM and his “TV Courtroom” show can be seen on PhillyCam/Verizon/Comcast.

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