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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Why celebrate madman, murderer

    Melissa Harper is a senior majoring in biological sciences. She can be contacted at [email protected].This Monday you may or may not have noticed that the banks were closed. For those of us who are sans calendars or government jobs, this was Columbus Day. This controversial holiday might not mean that much to students because we didn’t get out of school. Thanks a lot, Richard Nixon, but it means a lot to many others.
    Why am I mentioning Columbus Day when it has already come and gone? Well, turns out that Christopher Columbus and his almost mutinous sailors didn’t land until Oct. 12. Therefore, today is actually the anniversary of their grand arrival. I know everyone is on the edge of their seats by now, as you should be.
    Growing up a product of public schools, I was always taught that Columbus was the greatest explorer ever and he was the reason we go into a tryptophan coma on Thanksgiving. I had this picturesque image of him arriving on the banks of the eastern shore and befriending all the “Indians” while eating corn. I had it engrained in my brain that he was the sole discoverer of the New World. What a swell guy.
    I couldn’t be any further from the truth. Maybe I got the memo a little late or just didn’t pay attention in my history class during my freshman year, but Christopher Columbus was a ruthless and greedy tyrant, not the gallant protagonist that I had hoped. I decided to do a little exposé on Mr. Columbus just in case somebody else out there didn’t get that memo, too.
    Once upon a time in a salt-n’-pepper free Europe, there lived an Italian opportunist named Christopher Columbus, or Cristoforo Colombo, who was bound and determined to get rich or die tryin’.
    Contrary to popular belief, he was not out to prove the world was round. He had been a sailor since puberty and figured he could find a new route to Asia and bring spices back to Europe, thus ending the reign of humdrum food and making himself a rich man. With this so-called hatred for bland food and of course, love of money, he set off in search of India. Too bad he never got there. He thought the Asian continent stretched farther to the east than it really did. Just like a man, he wouldn’t admit that he was a tad misguided and lost and ended up in the Caribbean.
    He never found the Asian merchants that he promised he would. The only thing he did find were natives already living in his freshly discovered New World. So really, he only “discovered” this New World when looking from a European perspective, because there were several groups of natives that had inhabited the Americas long before Columbus was even a twinkle in his parents’ eyes.
    Since there were no spices to be had, he needed something to send back to bring in the cash. What did he have? He had an abundance of human lives thanks to the indigenous tribes of “Indians,” as he called them. He completely wiped out a whole population of natives by selling them as slaves. Those Indians he didn’t sell, he kept as slaves and forced them to work the plantations where they were treated like animals and killed at his disposal. There are reports that he used the dead bodies for dog food. He also tortured, killed and raped at will. When his human resources ran out, his parasitic ways led his scouts farther north to continue in the Atlantic slave trade, which was made possible by Christopher Columbus.
    I understand that was a different time, but his ideas and actions are quite similar to those of a little mustached man named Hitler. Some scholars even say Columbus made Adolf Hitler look like a “juvenile delinquent.” He had no value for human life and completely wiped out a race of people. Columbus’ barbarian practices caught up with him though. He was arrested, and his titles were stripped from him. He was an extremely cruel leader but continued to live a life of privilege once out of jail.
    I understand that he made some pretty hefty contributions to world trade, but he was by no means a Marco Polo or Ferdinand Magellan-class explorer. They knew where they were going.
    Yes, Columbus joined the two hemispheres and established trade between the two continents, but this joining also had a dark side. The Atlantic trading route also brought diseases back to both continents. It brought back slavery and ideas that the “Indian” culture was not one worth preserving. His practices made it OK for Europeans to think less of these natives and not care about the sanctity of their lives. It really allowed for the start of transatlantic slavery and the genocide of these people.
    I am not saying I am not happy the Americas were stumbled upon and developed. I just think the practices of some of these voyagers were not exactly humane. I don’t think we should celebrate the victories and riches of a scrooge like Columbus. Why don’t we have a Viking Day, since they came here first?
    Columbus made lots of money for himself and his country. This is why I think he is the most celebrated and well-known explorer. Many explorers before him did greater things and covered greater distances but didn’t gain the popularity and fame that Columbus did. I think this is because their discoveries didn’t make their respective countries as rich as Columbus’ discoveries did.
    So in the end, the amount of money made from your discoveries is directly proportional to the number of pages you will get in a history book. Money does in fact rule the world – the world we knew was round long before Señor Columbus ever came around.

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    Why celebrate madman, murderer