Unpopular Opinion: Columbus Day needs to be canceled



It may sound harsh, but it is the truth. The federal holiday, celebrated on the second Monday of each October, boasts the conqueror Christopher Columbus.

Columbus Day was not always celebrated. It wasn’t until 1937 that the Knights of Columbus successfully lobbied for the passage of the holiday and Franklin D. Roosevelt declared it a federal holiday. Today, we debate if we should even celebrate Columbus, as some cities and towns like Stanford, Kentucky forgo the holiday altogether in favor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, WKYT reported

How many of you remember learning the chant: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue?” When children learn about the famed Italian explorer, they are taught he was responsible for discovering the Americas and without him, America would not be what it is today. The truth, however, is a dark and often hidden skeleton in our history’s closet.

America should not delete Columbus from history books and lesson plans, per se, but shedding some light on the true Christopher Columbus would be the honorable thing to do. The evidence has been brought to light more over the last several years, with direct accounts coming from Columbus’ own diaries.

What I have gathered from this information is that Christopher Columbus paved the way for white culture. He murdered and suppressed native populations. There is evidence to prove this and it cannot be refuted. For example, Columbus was responsible for not only enslaving natives of the Americas, but selling young native girls ages 9 to 10 into sex slavery.

In one of his logs circa 1500, Columbus wrote, “a hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand.”

After all, what could possibly be more logical than rewarding your men with incredibly young girls to do with what they wish? Right? 

Furthermore, when the natives did not abide by Columbus’ demands that they hunt for gold in mines, he would mutilate their bodies and have them paraded through public. His brutality didn’t stop there: Columbus also used attack dogs to intimidate and harm the natives.

These crimes against humanity did not go unnoticed, and Columbus and his cohorts were arrested by Governor Francisco De Bobadilla and shipped back to Spain. Undeterred, they were eventually released by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, and returned for another round of native takedown.

Another man who turned on Columbus was Bartolome De Las Casas, who wrote about the atrocities in a journal.

“Such inhumanities and barbarisms were committed in my sight as no age can parallel…My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature that now I tremble as I write,” De Las Casas wrote. 

To put things into perspective, it is estimated that in 1492 there were more than 3 million natives inhabiting Hispaniola. Following Spanish arrival, that number lessened to 60,000 natives in the span of 20 years. 30 years later, no original natives remained.

But hey, they needed the help of those Europeans, right? They needed our help. They worshipped false idols, we gave them a better life. Columbus and his men had no idea giving the natives blankets riddled with disease would wipe out an entire group of people, right?

A purpose. Christopher Columbus gave them a purpose.

That is the idea being perpetuated by those who still spout the notion that Columbus was an innocent explorer who paved the way for our nation. Truthfully, he boasted the same colonialism angle so many other European explorers did as well: “Bow down or I will subjugate and, if and when you do not give in, I will kill you.”

So today, when thinking about Christopher Columbus and the reality that there is a holiday celebrating him, please remember those who suffered. Remember the indigenous people whose culture and heritage were wiped out at the hands of white privilege.

Perhaps someday, may our children not learn a short rhyme about Columbus, but about those who perished. May we all start saying, Happy Indigenous People’s Day. Those are the ones we should be celebrating.

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