Our Culture’s Heroes Were Often Not Heroes

Every year around July 4th, we turn on our televisions and hear about the great Christopher Columbus.  He sailed across the ocean blue to establish European colonies in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.  What a hero!  What we don’t hear is that he was a brutal dictator, enslaved all the natives he came across, took the women as sex slaves, chopped off the hands of any native male above the age of fourteen (unless they could get him gold), and pillaged these people of everything he could get.  He regularly used torture and mutilation on everyone who opposed him and had hundreds of thousands of innocent people killed.

I’d like to highlight another segment from the same documentary I featured in my last blog post.  Here is an example of how the news networks run their little specials on Christopher Columbus every year.

However, this time they made the mistake of bringing in a member of the Cherokee tribe, a Native American historian, in as their guest.  This scholar goes on to tell them that Columbus was a monster unworthy of all these lavish praises.  The news crew quickly cuts him off, and as they shoo him off, you hear the producers yelling out, “What does that guy know!  Who does he think he is?”

Sorry to break your bubble, but Columbus truly was a brutal dictator.  In fact, he was so brutal that Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand had to send a replacement, Francisco de Bobadilla, to rule the colonies in his stead.  Babadilla sent back a report to the Queen which can be found in historical archives.  Quoting Wikipedia,

The 48-page report, found in 2006 in the national archive in the Spanish city of Simancas, contains testimonies from 23 people, including both enemies and supporters of Columbus, about the treatment of colonial subjects by Columbus and his brothers during his seven-year rule.

According to the report, Columbus once punished a man found guilty of stealing corn by having his ears and nose cut off and then selling him into slavery. Testimony recorded in the report stated that Columbus congratulated his brother Bartolomeo on “defending the family” when the latter ordered a woman paraded naked through the streets and then had her tongue cut out for suggesting that Columbus was of lowly birth. The document also describes how Columbus put down native unrest and revolt; he first ordered a brutal crackdown in which many natives were killed and then paraded their dismembered bodies through the streets in an attempt to discourage further rebellion. “Columbus’s government was characterised by a form of tyranny,” Consuelo Varela, a Spanish historian who has seen the document, told journalists. “Even those who loved him had to admit the atrocities that had taken place.”

Because of their gross misgovernance, Columbus and his brothers were arrested and imprisoned upon their return to Spain from the third voyage.

Our culture elevates monsters into heroes.  Vile, horrific people are lifted up as national treasures.

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