Was Christopher Columbus really a hero? Come on.

Throughout elementary school, students are taught about the “heroic actions” of Christopher Columbus. If you ask any grade school student who he was, they are likely to respond with “he discovered America in 1492!”. That he simply sailed to America with his men from Spain and began the European colonization of our country. Textbooks and teachers may mention “oh, as a sidenote, there just so happened to be some Indians there already, but a lot of them died from European diseases that arrived with Columbus and his men.” These statements exemplify what is known as the “traditional” point of view regarding the history of Columbus.

Granted, Columbus certainly set the stage for European colonization of the Americas. I’ll give him that much. What many people are not aware of until adulthood (and what many adults still aren’t aware of) are the immoral acts that Columbus and his men engaged in. Many Native Americans refer to Columbus’ arrival as the beginning of the “American Holocaust (Delema)”. Teachers fail to mention to students the successful attempts these colonists made at driving out the Native American population. When students are taught about genocide, they are commonly taught about the Holocaust and Adolf Hitler. It is also imperative to note that a genocide occurred over 500 years ago on the very land we live on.

The “revisionist” historical point of view is commonly left out in the curriculum for both grade school and many college level courses. It is important for people to examine both sides of historical conflicts, as it is true that much of history is written by the “conquerers” themselves (Marino). However, I will point out that individual teachers are not at fault, as state standards of learning do not emphasize the revisionist view in their curriculum. Not to mention, it would be  inappropriate to teach second graders the details about genocide.

No amount of reparations could ever bring back the lives that were taken during this time, as well as some aspects of Native American culture. I’d like my readers to take the time during their day off of work this Monday to read a bit about the the other point of view. Since I could not say it better myself, please take a look at the two articles I have provided below:

Recommended articles:

“Columbus’s Genocide” by George Marino

“Native American Genocide” by Raina Delema

Recommended text:

“Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong” by James W. Loewen

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