October 12, 2015

Let's not have #ColumbusDay OR #IndigenousPeoplesDay

I personally view the trend of seemingly politically correct cities replacing the former with the latter.

First, as we push back the date of first human migration to the Americas, it's clear that it came in multiple waves.

Therefore, the first "indigenous people" were either assimilated or killed off by later migrants. Yes, said later migrants didn't have Columbus' and other Europeans' advantages of "Guns, Germs and Steel," but, they still killed off predecessors in some cases. The story, the actual truth, about Kennewick Man is a good illustration.

Other pre-Columbian myths, per the likes of "1491," also aren't quite so true. (Charles Mann shoots down a few post-Columbian myths in "1493."

The ancient Americas weren't a pristine ecological Eden, for example. Fire and other tools were used to extensively manage lands, to help drive and capture deer and other game, and more. That's apart from the times when American Indians were being environmentally wasteful or leaving trash laying around themselves.

Columbus and post-Columbians enslaving Indians? They enslaved each other both before and after 1492.

Deliberate genocide? No, not by Columbus. As far as claims by others, like Ward Churchill, they've been almost entirely refuted. Churchill himself has told those whoppers as part of a whole pack of PC lies about American Indians vs. Euro-Americans. Nor was European Christianity a cause of genocide; yes, padres as well as soldiers overworked Indians even after the Spanish Crown put an end to their enslavement; I shot that down as part of shooting down a broader bit of Gnu Atheist nonsense that religion was in general genocidal. (Besides, per the below, it's not always and only Western monotheism that can be religiously troubling.)

The Columbian Contact, because of the "germs" part of Diamond's book, was tragedy-laden from the start. And, there were a number of individual bad actors. But, it wasn't a systemic genocide. And, because issues of intent aren't always clear, and sometimes didn't exist, I prefer not to use the word "genocide." There's a difference between manslaughter and murder, even if the manslaughter is somewhat voluntary, and definitely if it's not. The same should apply to genocide, establishing it as mass murder for particular religious, ethnic, or similar reasons, rather than mass manslaughters.

As for the seven or eight, or innumerated, myths about Columbus? Not all of the refudiations of the myths are themselves correct. And, the refudiations that depend on Howard Zinn depend on Zinn at his non-academic worst, although he did have a fair amount correct.

Tackling some of this, off that list of eight.
1. Yes, Columbus did that
2. Not true, unless you're parochial enough to be using "America" for the "United States." Columbus was on mainland South America in his third voyage. If you are that parochial, then you've got a PC petard hoisting. If you're restricting yourself to his first voyage, why did you say "not ever"? More on Columbus' voyages from Wiki.
3. No, Columbus' own language showed he did not portray natives badly, at least not initially, other than the cannibals allegation
4. Not all of Columbus' men were; blanket statements aren't accepted here. And, that some, some Indians were rapists and murderers, too.
5. Columbus' original slaving action was for slave resale, not for gold miners. And, he certainly didn't kill 250,000 for gold. Disease, etc., along with overwork did that, but Columbus didn't kill 250,000.
6/7 True. Again, Indians did
8. Pardoned, but not restored to all pre-arrest rights, which led to his sons later legally battling the Spanish throne.

Otherwise? Cannibalism, infanticide and whatever else you want to name: Europeans, Asians and Africans from the Old World, and Amerinds from the New, committed them all alike. Rape? Murder? Ditto. So, even if some of Columbus' men were some of these things, so were some indigenous peoples. And, try as much as some PC types will, it still appears that syphilis was an import from the New World to the Old, not the other way around.

Dogs of war had been used by Europeans against other Europeans. (And, occasionally, Asians against other Asians.) Spaniards, in places like the Battle of Toro, cut each others' hands off.

Even in early contact days, while the Caribbean natives were largely peaceful, that wasn't true elsewhere. Don't forget that Cortes' conquest of Mexico was helped by vassals of the Aztecs revolting against them. (Aztecs who committed living human sacrifices by ripping still-beating hearts out of people's chests.)

I "get" that this isn't about Columbus, but about Euro-Americans, and for some, Christianity, in the New World. But, again, this wasn't a genocide. Also, there's been plenty of non-European "bad actors," and non-Christian ones. Think Stalin and Hitler among the non-Christian ones. (Uninformed comments about "Stalin went to seminary" will not be posted.) Think Jinggis Khan, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and many others on the former. Or, American Indians not named.

Speaking of, for the alleged barbarity of Christianity as a religion vs. Native American "spirituality" and alleged nobility?

Go stick skewers under your breast muscles while getting someone else to lacerate your skin. Have that other person tie the skewers to the top of a pole outside in the summer. Then, go dance the Sun Dance until you pass out and the skewers rip through your body. Or self-sacrifice your own heart to the gods of the Aztecs.

Then get back to me about the nobility of American Indian "spirituality," OK?

If you're a PC liberal, or just someone trying to think globally while accepting the muddled reality of humanity, instead of Indigeneous Peoples' Day OR Columbus Day, push for Oct. 24 to be a U.S. holiday.

In case you're drawing a blank? United Nations Day.

We can kill Columbus Day, NOT replace it with a PC alternative, get some PC liberals to think outside America and decommercialize Halloween, all in one fell swoop.

Or, if that's too much, do like Latin American countries on Columbus Day and have something like "La Raza Day," celebrating the good, the bad and the ugly of both cultures, since both had all of that, and both exchanged all three with the other.

Anyway, this "Columbus" = "devil" nonsense is a good exemplar of why I call myself a skeptical left-liberal. Columbus wasn't perfect. He wasn't close. It's arguable as to how much more bad than good he was, whether in specific dealings with Indians, his gubernatorial abilities, his relations with the Spanish crown, or his actual navigation skills aside, his broader sailing mindset.

But, he wasn't the devil. And, while the original Caribbean contact natives were generally peaceful, indigenous Americans in general weren't angels. And, I don't want to replace one set of myths with another.

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