Columbus Day

It should be a source of shame that for centuries we lionized the exploits of explorers who sought only wealth and glory; murdering, raping and enslaving as they pleased. Even their own priests reviled their depravity.

A free and proud people should be able to teach their children the truth; that we can and must enact justice in spite of our history, not because of it. We should not have to fall back on mythology to spare our sensibilities. We do not need to celebrate how got here in order to be proud of who we are.

View All


  1. I disagree. It’s so easy to judge from a different historical moment. Actually it makes no sense. Mythology is nice, it’s like literature or music. And listening the stories about the brave explorers is great. So good as it is to listen Beethoveen. Having mythology is like having fairy tales. It’s a fantastic world of adventure, passion… I’m glad we have it. Criticism saying “Snow White probably wasn’t that beautiful” is stupid. It’s just not knowing what the story means. The same about Columbus… “Murder, raper, enslaver”, nonsense…

    1. Snow White is an *actual* fairy tail. Columbus was a real person, and there is extensive historical record of what he did.

  2. There was a comment here comparing the whitewashed story of Columbus to delightful fairy tales, and calling the eyewitness accounts of murder, rape and enslavement “nonsense”. After some consideration I decided that sort of historical denial has no place on this blog. Let this be a warning to other commenters.

    1. Seriously – you have to invoke the role of censor? You feel you’re the only one capable of judging a comment for what it is – good, bad, indifferent or historical nonsense?

      Unless a comment is totally off the wall indecent or incredibly mean spirited I fail to understand why you should be the censor for me and others over words and thoughts such as “delightful fairy tales” and “nonsense”.

      To have someone write blog content that judges others (rightly or wrongly) and then censor anyone who takes issue with that judgement, IMO comes up short vis a vis the self control needed to allow for free and open discussion.

      Give the comment readers some credit – they really don’t need you to run interference.

      Once you put a point of view out here for public consumption, it seems to me you no longer have full ownership of the dialog and you should act accordingly. If you think you do retain full ownership then what’s being offered is not much more than “holier than tho” propaganda.

      Oh and your threat “Let this be a warning to other commenters.” ain’t stopping this commenter – better I give the much needed feedback and be deleted than cower at Avdi’s threat to push me and my thoughts into the bit bucket.

      1. I’m not sure why you think you have any right to expectations about the comment policy on my personal journal. Let alone to pass judgement on that policy.

        This is not a public space. Cries of “censorship” do not apply. This is my area, and not even my most public face. Comments here are not an essential feature and at some point I may turn them off entirely.

        You are always free to comment – on *your* space. I have no responsibility whatsoever to play host to content of yours or anyone else’s on this journal.

        If you can’t respect this policy, I encourage you to make your comments elsewhere, such as on your own blog.

  3. What I said it’s that’s nonsense to judge Columbus who lived 5 centuries ago. It’s like judging Romulus who killed his brother Remus… The adventures of Romulus are meaningful even with that parricidium. Saying “We are not going to celebrate the foundation of Rome that day because he was a murderer” is at the very least plain ingenuous… You cannot depurate the history and even if you could what would be the goal? Our heroes are full of contradictions (and many of them are just contradictions because we have an anachronic perspective) and they can still be heroes.

    Leaving aside the fact that the historical evidence about Columbus is quite dubious and they were many interests in the way of writing the history, if you judge slavery in antiquity in that way you never could elogiate Cicero… Anyway, this is just to answer you, Avdi. Of course, feel free to delete this message too. Don’t worry, I won’t write again if you don’t want me to.

    And no, it’s not historical denial, it’s just a consideration about the “goals” in historiography. Of course, rape, slavery and war are terrible things. That doesn’t mean we cannot or we shouldn’t recall the battle of Waterloo or the duel between Horaces and Curiaces (and the last one was really hard, Horace, the victor, kill his brother-in-law and then his own sister!) And Romans have every year a ceremony where they celebrate the victory of Horatius, which is a roman victory…

    1. Again, you are comparing ACTUAL MYTHOLOGY of people who almost certainly never existed (Romulus and Remus) to recorded history of real people. You seem to be ignorant of the fact that the history of Columbus isn’t “dubious”; it comes directly from multiple written accounts from Columbus and his own men who were eager to inform Spain of their exploits.

      For a very simple introduction to this stuff, see here: it may be a comic, but it is based on the current historical consensus. Which, in turn, is based on eyewitness accounts.

      Educate yourself a little and then decide if Columbus is someone we know little about and should therefore mythologize.

  4. PS: and this is an argumentum ad hominem, but for what it counts, half of my family comes from aboriginal people…

  5. The podcast Hardcore History has a recurring (I think, haven’t listened to that many episodes) theme about how we judge past horrors. The beginning of the first episode about the khans, for example, gets into how the Mongols did truly awful things, comparable to the Holocaust, but since centuries have passed, it’s discussed impersonally, often positively.

Comments are closed.