The US today provides another illustration of why one state should never dominate global affairs: states, like individuals, largely lack self-awareness.
Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out that the US is “perhaps the only nation” that was “born in genocide”. “Moreover”, he said, the US celebrates genocide as “a noble crusade,” and US “literature, …films, …drama, …folklore all exalt it.”
As US products of these traditions push for unprecedented dictatorial control over global production and profits, here are the words of some Native people and others on Columbus:
Here’s Why More States, Cities Need to Repeal Columbus Day by Sarah Sunshine Manning
Deceptive. Greedy. Murderer. Racist. Not exactly characteristics of a hero, and certainly not the makings of a man worthy of a national holiday.
Jig’s up, America. Christopher Columbus was a genocidal madman. America’s first and original terrorist. And as our global consciousness and awareness of humanity expands, it is time we give up defending Christopher Columbus as anything but otherwise.
Who Could Possibly Be in Favor of Columbus Day? by Bayard Johnson
What was Columbus’s impression of the Indians? He described them as “well-built, with good bodies and handsome features… They would make fine servants… With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.” And the Indians are “so naïve and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no…they are good to be ordered about, to work and to sow, and do all that may be necessary…”
At every landfall, the Indians either greeted Columbus with friendship or fled into the jungle. The Spanish were never attacked or treated with hostility. In his journal, Columbus describes the Indians as “generous to a fault.”
He repaid this hospitality by demanding gold and taking slaves. Columbus gave his men gifts of slave girls—ages 9 or 10 were preferred—to rape and use as sex slaves.
From the Northern Plains to the Southwestern deserts, American Indian groups are working to correct historic falsehoods and demanding acknowledgement of what the “discovery” of this continent meant to and for Indigenous Peoples.
One focus of this effort is to convince municipalities to pass resolutions changing the name of the holiday celebrated on the second Monday of October from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. In 1992, the city of Berkeley, California, became the first to abolish Columbus Day, and several other California cities have followed suit. As have a number of other cities, including Seattle, Washington; St. Paul, Minneapolis; Grand Rapids and Duluth, Minnesota; and Traverse City, Michigan.
The typical US defense when confronted with information like the above, that it was “a different time”, etc., provides another illustration of the self-serving thinking necessary to the genocidal settler colonial mindset by implying that in a “different time” victims would have been more amenable and somehow less resistant to being raped and butchered – though only by favored agents. The victims of “enemy” groups, even in “different times”, are not dismissed, but are used, like the victims of “enemy” groups today, for propaganda purposes. “Enemy” cruelty and the suffering of the victims of “enemies” – groups powerful enough to eschew US dominance – is highlighted, while “own” victims and cruelties are downplayed however possible, past and present.
Author focuses on force dynamics, national and global, and also writes professionally for the film industry. Contact on Twitter.