Columbus as villain

*… Columbus’ stature in U.S. classrooms has declined somewhat through the years, and many districts will not observe his namesake holiday on Monday. Although lessons vary, many teachers are trying to present a more balanced perspective of what happened after Columbus reached the Caribbean and the suffering of indigenous populations.

“The whole terminology has changed,” said James Kracht, executive associate dean for academic affairs in the Texas A&M College of Education and Human Development. “You don’t hear people using the world ‘discovery’ anymore like they used to. ‘Columbus discovers America.’ Because how could he discover America if there were already people living here?”*

news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091011/ap_on_re_us/us_teaching_columbus_3

The Associated Press story goes on to say that 4th grade students in McDonald, Pa., tried Columbus for misrepresenting the Spanish crown and thievery, and sentenced him to life in prison.

What he discovered was a host of immoral diseases whose names can’t be mentioned on the message board because the auto-censor would block their mention. I’m just sayin’…

“Of course, America had been discovered many times before, but it had always been covered up.” - Mark Twain

Didn’t he return from his second voyage in chains? I think we should accentuate the positive in his achievement.

Much of the acts of the first Europeans to these fair shores does not survive close examination. I remember the uproar about Fr. Junipero Serra.

[quote=the article]“Every hero is somebody else’s villain,” said Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, a scholar and author of several books related to Columbus, including “1492: The Year the World Began.”

“Heroism and villainy are just two sides of the same coin.”
[/quote]

LOL

Well, that is one way to look at it! :o

Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Columbus says the Spanish Court appointed Francisco de Bobadilla governor. Bobadilla, arriving in Santiago while Columbus was away, heard a stream of complaints about Columbus and his two brothers.

*"As a result of these testimonies and without being allowed a word in his own defense, Columbus, upon his return, had manacles placed on his arms and chains on his feet and was cast into prison to await return to Spain. He was 53 years old.

“On 1 October 1500, Columbus and his two brothers, likewise in chains, were sent back to Spain.”*

But aren’t you concerned about American society’s tendency to judge historical people and their actions based on Americans’ ethical stance of the moment, rather than considering the era and circumstances in which the historical personages acted?

Are you advocating relativism? Aren’t moral values absolute?

Yes, that’s what I said. At least I thought I did.

Folks in that era used to whip misbehaving servants, such employees were not slaves, either. I don’t think the practice could be examined under current criteria.

I think we agree, but I want to explore your point a bit more. Prior eras had cultures which were less moral. They engaged in immoral practices. It is right to condemn them for their lapses.

Thank you for asking.

You are, of course, correct. Moral issues are constant - e.g. murdering, maiming, raping, denying the worker his/her due wages, etc. I was trying to address shifting societal standards.

My concern is that our society is increasingly forgetting that we live within the particular ethics of an era or location, and increasingly seems (at least to me) inclined to pillory people of the past who failed to live according to the particular set of ethics we embrace today.

Not at all like us today, now that we’re so much more enlightened.

– Mark L. Chance.

But aren’t you concerned about American society’s tendency to judge historical people and their actions based on Americans’ ethical stance of the moment, rather than considering the era and circumstances in which the historical personages acted?

Except we can point to people who acted better than Columbus, and recognized what he was doing was wrong. Even the Spanish Crown tried to impose stricter restrictions on him, and then of course we have the example of the Franciscans, with Bartolome de las Casas as one of the leading lights of that opposition.

I think we can agree that not enslaving others is an enlightened attitude,.

Columbus discovered someone’s backyard. Can you image that today? You’re grilling out some burgers, the kids are running around playing tag and some guy plants a flag in your yard. “I claim this for Spain!”

You better get that flag out of my yard or I’m gonna claim your butt for Spain.

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