Monday, October 13, 2014

Columbus Day views

It's the time of year where we rewind the clocks 500 years and call for the head of Christopher Columbus because of how he treated people. We do so as Americans, in America from behind the keyboards of modern day computers and smartphones. We pretend that the actions of Christopher Columbus can be measured by the social behavior measuring stick of today.

The only iniquity is the inequity given here. I'm not running around looking for Native Americans to kill and I'm not trying to further destroy their culture. I don't exactly take to the streets to condone his behavior. I'm not one of the proud Italians who calls him a hero. However, like everything else in this country, our efforts are done with blind ignorance and hyperbolic reaction.

Here is what I mean. People leave comments like "On Columbus Day, walk into someone's home and take their TV." That's theft. Taking land 500 years ago may also have been by today's standards, but not as much then. Why? Well... we have laws and statutes today that create a divide between right and wrong. That didn't exist then. There was no legal and illegal. There was just right and wrong as determined my moral compass. That's subjective. Some people think abortion is wrong, some think marijuana is right. That list goes on for days. That is why laws are created (and changed) because people need guidance to level the playing field, and as we evolve we adjust the laws accordingly (think gay marriage and marijuana usage).

Go back 500 years to the time of Columbus. People thought the world was flat. That's the construct within which they thought. They were wrong and they learned. Just as we learned slavery was wrong many years later and then women's rights, civil rights, sexual rights and so on. So we evolve.

Go back further. How dare cavemen behave the way they did? There are many things in history that were wrong. The Crusades weren't exactly the pinnacle of diplomacy and treating each other with respect. The Jews were treated like shit by Egyptians. Non Muslims are at risk by a portion of Muslims today.

When you were 1 year old you used to shit yourself. Now you learned to wipe your own ass. If you're 30 and still shit yourself, you have severe problems. But we don't hold you accountable for what went on 28 years ago. Under that framework for that part of your personal evolution, that was normal. Then you learned and adapted, as have we.

Did the Native Americans (who are still called in Indians by so many lobbying for the removal of Columbus Day - figure that shit out) get the shaft? Sure they did. Can we re-write history? Nope. So what can we do? There are a few things.

  1. Give land to the Native Americans. We tried that and still do. However, every time new communities are build on reservations by American taxpayers, there are reports of rampant vandalism and destruction by the citizens out of spite. 
  2. Allow Native Americans to live amongst the rest of us have prosperous lives like anyone else. Oh, that's not even an issue because nobody is excluded. But many don't want to pay taxes to the system that shafted them so many years ago so they're given reservation land and in that case, see #1.
  3. Any American can give up their land/home/property/etc to a Native American because they feel that bad and that strongly against Columbus. I don't see many people leaving to return to their native countries. But if Columbus was such a prick and you think he shouldn't have done what he did, then return the land to the Native Americans and go back. Let's undo it if you want to undo it. Yeah, that's gonna happen.
You just can't scream from the rooftops about how horrible this all is while you live in America. You cannot assuage guilt with some intangible suggestion. "It shouldn't be a holiday. He was a genocidal maniac. Take if off the books." So your solution is opening the post office and sending people to work on a regular Monday? That is the fix action for genocide? Are you kidding me? Oh wait, that's the slacktivist version. Let me yell REALLY loud so people feel my fervor and then I don't have to actually do anything at all. Why not run a click campaign or change your profile photo while you're at it?

Look, I'm not in the business of ethnic cleansing. If someone did today what Columbus did 500 years ago, I'd take up the sword and defend the cause. The point here is that you cannot judge someone 500 years ago by today's standard. What if we reenacted prohibition? That doesn't make sense in 2014. Shit, it didn't make sense in the 1920s either.

You can't change mistakes, but you can learn from them. And let's face facts; there are parts of Columbus' actions that worked out really well for a lot of people also.

Oh and before you make him out to be 100% bad, remember that he didn't set out to do all this. Truthfully, he was looking for India. The guy was lost. Hitler killed people on purpose. He targeted people and murdered them en masse. Columbus tried a new route, got lost, stumbled on some land that seemed underdeveloped and tried to make something of it. And the closest he got on any of his 4 voyages was Cuba. 

So if you take away Columbus Day, what have you really done to fix the mistakes made in history? The concept of not honoring the man makes you feel better? Ok. If that's your stance then so be it. Just admit that's for you and your own sense of misguided guilt (since you did nothing wrong) and it's not for the people for which you're lobbying in the first place. 

We really need to start thinking critically and stop screaming about basically nothing. Action/Impact. Think about it.

No comments: