Why Columbus Day Should Not Be Celebrated Essay

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Why Columbus Day Should Not Be Celebrated  Essay


For decades, school children have been taught the misinformation that Christopher Columbus “discovered” America. As consciousness develops and society becomes more aware of the realities of history, it becomes less and less acceptable to celebrate false heroes like corrupt politicians, confederate generals and cruel explorers. Christopher Columbus fits the last category. A close examination of history demonstrates that he brought much despair and horrors to indigenous people near the Americas. The fact that The United States still has a day in his honor is bizarre and absurd. This essay will discuss the numerous compelling reasons why Columbus Day should be abolished, and ideally replaced with something that appropriately honors indigenous people.

One of the most compelling reasons to abolish Columbus Day was the fact that Christopher Columbus was a non-American, non-native, who never actually touched any of the soil of the continental United States. It might even be accurate to say that he never even laid eyes on the continental this country. “During four separate trips that started with the one in 1492, Columbus landed on various Caribbean islands  that are now the Bahamas as well as the island later called Hispaniola. He also explored the Central and South American coasts. But he didn’t reach North America, which, of course, was already inhabited by Native Americans, and he never thought he had found a new continent” (Strauss, 2013). Thus, why Columbus was selected to embody some national hero of this country is rather thought-provoking. The first celebration of Columbus Day occurred in 1792 in New York, as a reason to celebrate the anniversary of Columbus’s “landing.” After this first occasion, other celebrations started emerging around the nation as means of acknowledging Columbus’s Catholic and Italian heritage. The Knights of Columbus, a Roman Catholic fraternal organization, were the ones who really lobbied for Columbus to get a holiday of his own—something that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt designated in 1934 (Indian Country Today, 2016). Thus, it should surprise no one, that Columbus Day was selected as a means of furthering the visibility of the Catholic Church and the Italian community. Columbus was merely a misguided choice in accomplishing this goal. 

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When one abandons a rose-colored Eurocentric perspective of Columbus and simply examines the mere facts that shaped his actions, it becomes apparent that the man engaged in repeated, monstrous behavior. “Two days after he ‘discovered’ America, Columbus wrote in his journal that with 50 men he could force ‘the entire population be taken to Castile, or held captive.

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’ On his second voyage, in December 1494, Columbus captured 1,500 Tainos on the island of Hispaniola and herded them to Isabela, where 550 of ‘the best males and females’ were forced aboard ships bound for the slave markets of Seville” (Strong, 1989). Columbus led the Spanish attack on the Taino people of Hispaniola, showing mercy to neither women nor children. The attack was ruthless and the people, who once were numbered around one to two million were extinct within a few decades (Strong, 1989). 

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Columbus’s brutality also reached inhuman proportions. Some might defend his use of slaves as a practice that was common at the time and reflective of the lack of development or sense of human rights that was typical of the era. Such a defense does not properly acknowledge the devastation of enslaving an entire group of people. However, in the book Lies My Teacher Told Me the author James Loewen explains that during Columbus’s rampages, butcher shops were set up throughout the Caribbean selling Indian bodies for dog food: “There was also a practice known as the montería infernal, the infernal chase, or manhunt, in which Indians were hunted by war-dogs. These dogs?—?who also wore armor and had been fed human flesh?—?were a fierce match for the Indians. Live babies were also fed to these war dogs as sport, sometimes in front of their horrified parents” (2018). Thus, there was an inhuman, sadistic side to the conquests led by Columbus, one that needs to be acknowledged so that his holiday might be properly discarded.



To conclude, the preservation of Columbus Day represents the worst kind of complacency—delusional complacency. The preservation of this holiday is a denial of the realities of Columbus, who he was and what he did. Continuing to celebrate this holiday ignores the facts that he never set foot on this nation, and has little connection to America. More importantly, continual celebration of this holiday disregards the tremendous suffering he inflicted on native people and his role in the expansion of slavery. Giving….....

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Flanagin, C. (2014, December 22). Columbus Day, or ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’? Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/05/learning/should-the-united-states-celebrate-columbus-day.html

Indian Country Today. (2016, October 8). Why Is Columbus Day a Thing? The History Behind the 'Holiday? -IndianCountryToday.com. Retrieved from https://newsmaven.io/indiancountrytoday/archive

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