Columbus Banned at Brown
Anyone who has studied history, especially at a mostly liberal institution like Brown, knows that Christopher Columbus did not “discover” the Americas. Not only are many of his accomplishments falsified or overstated – Columbus was not the first Westerner to explore the Americas, and he never set foot in the United States – but the claim that Columbus or other explorers “discovered” America ignores the civilizations built and sustained by Native Americans for hundreds of years.
To celebrate Columbus Day is to celebrate a colonizer’s holiday. It is the celebration of European powers claiming land on this and other continents, and a celebration of violence toward and oppression of indigenous people and culture. White people, ranging from European colonizers to the government of the United States, have committed innumerable brutal offenses against Native Americans over the past 500 years. Honoring Columbus with a holiday glosses over a racist, blood-stained facet of our history and glamorizes the past as victorious manifest destiny.
Yes, Europeans are indeed unique in this:
For the Aztecs, warfare had a much different goal than for most of their counterparts. The goal of the battles was not to destroy the enemy and ransack the village but to capture the community and integrate them into the Aztec society, thus providing a much more productive and expanding kingdom. The temples of these cities were burned and the worship of Huitzilopochtli was installed. Warfare was also used to capture victims for ceremonial use. Prisoners of war were sacrificed on huge alters in front of large crowds. The heart of the victim was cut out, symbolically offered to the gods, and the lifeless bodies of the victims were rolled down the long stairs, staining the steps with blood.
In North America, Europeans were one among equals in the Beaver Wars. In what we now call southern New England, the wars between the Narragansetts, Wampanoags, Pequots and Mohegans were going on before the arrival of white Europeans. Of course Europeans didn’t cover themselves in glory with the way they treated the indigenous people of the New World. Man has made war upon man for time immemorial. As “anyone who has studied history” should know, the difference is only a matter of degree. This exercise in PC-feelgoodism is based on a blinkered and anachronistic view of history.