When I think of Columbus
We recently observed Genocidal Maniac Day–otherwise known as Columbus Day– and I couldn’t help but think about how Christopher Columbus’s bloody and unthinkably cruel legacy is still not truly acknowledged, or we would have long ago changed this day of honor for a ruthless man to one that pays respect to those who have suffered at the hands of conquerers throughout history.
Sadly, the mindset that allowed the horrible torture, imprisonment and slaughter of innocent humans is the same spirit that is alive and well today with regards to the way man treats animals he considers “lower” than himself.
An excerpt from an article at Indian Country Today:
As Columbus approached land, the local Natives, the Arawaks, swam out to greet the ships. Columbus later wrote, “They are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has witnessed them would believe it,” and “They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance… They would make fine servants… With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”
Subjugate, torture and murder was the name of the game towards these gentle natives, and the full tale of Columbus’s brutality is recounted in the article quoted above, a tale so hideous, so barbaric, so utterly cruel that it makes me sick to my stomach.
In a search for gold, of which there was very little, Columbus enslaved, murdered, and inflicted every sort of inhumane misery upon those gentle people.
With 17 additional ships and 1,200 men, Columbus promised to bring back as much gold and slaves as anyone could want. In 1495, they “rounded up” 1,500 Arawak men, women and children, chose 500 of the best, of which 200 died en route to Spain.
When the Arawaks could not produce enough gold, he cut off the hands of all those 14 years and older, and enslaved them on estates where they were worked to death. The most horrific reports came from a young priest, Bartolomé de Las Casas, who wrote, “The Spaniards think nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades.” He wrote of two Christians who met up with two Arawak boys and beheaded them for fun.
“Mothers drowned their babies from sheer desperation, husbands died in the mines, women died at work, children died from lack of milk… my eyes have seen acts so foreign to human nature, and now I tremble as I write,” de Las Casas wrote.
Over three million perished at the hands of Columbus.
Sadly, the attitude that results in mistreating those who are defenseless, innocent, trusting and helpless against superior force is the same one which allows man to torture, imprison, brutally slaughter, hunt for pleasure and needlessly destroy billions of animals in our world.
We don’t need animal meat or milk to be healthy and we don’t need their skins or furs to keep warm.
But we allow others to exploit animals simply because we can (and because most of us don’t have to see the torture and slaughter).
It’s the attitude of being “superior” that allows this kind of brutality.
We must evolve to become humans who are completely intolerant of this murderous behavior towards any living, sentient being, human or otherwise.
And while we’re at it, let’s rename “Columbus Day” to “Compassion Day”, a day that seeks to honor all those who deserve to be remembered with empathy and sorrow and to also uphold those who care about and seek to lessen the suffering of all.