From The Guardian;
As the US observes Columbus Day on Monday, it will also be Indigenous Peoples Day in at least nine cities, including Albuquerque; Portland, Oregon; St Paul, Minnesota; and Olympia, Washington.Encouraged by city council votes in Minneapolis and Seattle last year, Native American activists made a push in dozens of cities in recent months to get local leaders to officially recognise the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day. Their success was mixed.
The campaigns say the federal holiday honoring Christopher Columbus – and the parades and pageantry accompanying it – overlooks a painful history of colonialism, enslavement, discrimination and land grabs that followed the Italian explorer’s 1492 arrival in the Americas.
The indigenous holiday takes into account the history and contributions of Native Americans for a more accurate historical record, activists have argued.If Columbus Day is quintessentially US-ian, then so too is false equivalence. Five hundred years later, activists find themselves having to argue over the historical record, as though history were debatable. Facts are such controversial things.
As Roxane Dunbar-Ortiz explains in An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, "Origin narratives form the vital core of a people's unifying identity and of the values that guide them. In the United States, the founding and development of the Anglo-American settler state involves a narrative about Puritan settlers who had a covenant with God to take the land. That part of the origin story is supported and reinforced by the Columbus myth and the 'Doctrine of Discovery.' According to a series of late fifteenth century papal bulls, European nations acquired title to the lands they 'discovered' and the Indigenous inhabitants lost their natural right to that land after Europeans arrived and claimed it."
And from the quintessential Howard Zinn:
To emphasize the heroism of Columbus and his successors as navigators and discoverers, and to de-emphasize their genocide, is not a technical necessity but an ideological choice. It serves- unwittingly-to justify what was done. My point is not that we must, in telling history, accuse, judge, condemn Columbus in absentia. It is too late for that; it would be a useless scholarly exercise in morality. But the easy acceptance of atrocities as a deplorable but necessary price to pay for progress (Hiroshima and Vietnam, to save Western civilization; Kronstadt and Hungary, to save socialism; nuclear proliferation, to save us all)-that is still with us. One reason these atrocities are still with us is that we have learned to bury them in a mass of other facts, as radioactive wastes are buried in containers in the earth. We have learned to give them exactly the same proportion of attention that teachers and writers often give them in the most respectable of classrooms and textbooks. This learned sense of moral proportion, coming from the apparent objectivity of the scholar, is accepted more easily than when it comes from politicians at press conferences. It is therefore more deadly.
The treatment of heroes (Columbus) and their victims (the Arawaks)-the quiet acceptance of conquest and murder in the name of progress-is only one aspect of a certain approach to history, in which the past is told from the point of view of governments, conquerors, diplomats, leaders. It is as if they, like Columbus, deserve universal acceptance, as if they-the Founding Fathers, Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy, the leading members of Congress, the famous Justices of the Supreme Court-represent the nation as a whole. The pretense is that there really is such a thing as "the United States," subject to occasional conflicts and quarrels, but fundamentally a community of people with common interests. It is as if there really is a "national interest" represented in the Constitution, in territorial expansion, in the laws passed by Congress, the decisions of the courts, the development of capitalism, the culture of education and the mass media.It is no accident that Columbus "discovered" America at the same time that the Spanish Inquisition was in full throttle, and Ferdinand, Isabella and Torquemada were also busily expelling or converting Jews, and deporting Muslims, and burning heretics at the stake. Subjugation of peoples around the globe is still very much in the DNA of the ruling elites. Columbus Day will be abolished over their cold, dead, pampered bodies.
Not for nothing has the image of Columbus been transgendered into a beneficent goddess in paintings, sculptures, and corporate logos. An Ivy League university is named after a plunderer. So too is a sportswear company and a space shuttle. "Hail, Columbia" is the entrance march for the US vice president. CBS, one of the six major media conglomerates, is the acronym for the Columbia Broadcasting System. Columbia Pictures is a major Hollywood studio. And so on and so forth.
|Columbia Pictures Logo|
And not for nothing is the power center of the US imperium located in the richest, most corrupt place in the entire country: Washington, District of Columbia. The goals of the 21st century ruling class are still so essentially Columbian: globalization for the purposes of extracting slave labor and mineral wealth. The Columbian spirit is very deeply embedded in the top-secret plunderous pages of both the Trans-Pacific and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnerships.
President Obama (Columbia-'83) let his own inner Columbus shine through in his latest weekly address:
With this Trans-Pacific Partnership, we are writing the rules for the global economy. America is leading in the 21st century. Our workers will be the ones who get ahead. Our businesses will get a fair deal. And those who oppose passing this new trade deal are really just accepting a status quo that everyone knows puts us at a disadvantage.The Spanish royals used much the same line as they sent forth Columbus and their subsequent armies of conquistadors to rewrite the rules of the global economy. Isabella remained a popular ruler as she held her own weekly audiences with her subjects. Meanwhile, Spain went so deeply into debt via global colonialism that its empire declined and fell, as empires always do.
Still, Columbus must be writhing with pleasure in his grave as the parade of capitalism marches on and on, heedless of the global havoc it wreaks.
And conservative Catholics are still pressing the cause of his sugar-mommy Isabella for sainthood, a movement that collapsed during the 500th anniversary celebrations of the "discovery." Apparently the queen has been unable to perform the requisite miracles, such as revising history as successfully as US textbook writers and politicians.