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Columbus Day: A Celebration of Genocide

Jackie Cannon, Contributor

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Christopher Columbus is glorified in American culture, but his journey across the sea marked the beginning of suffering and abuse for thousands of Native Americans. The familiar rhyme states “In fourteen hundred ninety-two/ Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” This fact is essentially the only correct one amidst the lies taught today about who Columbus was and what he really did.

His goal: An Atlantic route to Asia that would take the place of the lengthy and dangerous journey ships then had to take around Africa in order to trade. According to History.com, Columbus and his men enslaved hundreds of natives when their ships arrived on various caribbean islands, such as the Bahamas and Hispaniola.  

Columbus was arrested in 1498 for his and his brothers’ brutality in leading the various colonies they established. He died in 1506 stripped of his noble title and lacking any riches he so desperately desired.

Over the years, the perception of Columbus changed. In 1792, a celebration was held to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Columbus landing in the Bahamas. In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison strongly encouraged Americans to celebrate the 400th anniversary. In 1937, President FDR announced it would be a national holiday, which has been celebrated on the second Monday in every October, according to history.com

Today, kids have school off and adults don’t have to work on Columbus Day. Some still acknowledge the purpose of the day, but most students treat it no differently than a professional development day. They are thrilled not to have school, but they don’t really know why school’s not in session.

Ten people out of twenty seven people at Nashoba Regional High School asked did not know why we have school off this Monday. Many of those who got the answer correct were clearly guessing and surprised to know they were right. Furthermore, many people asked continued on to say Columbus day shouldn’t be celebrated. Sophomores felt particularly strong since they have recently begun learning early American History, and what really happened.

When asked, History teacher Mr. Sakellarion explained why he does not support Columbus Day. “First of all, his name wasn’t Christopher Columbus, it was Cristoph Colombo.” Christopher Columbus is the Americanized version of his name. “There are only two people with holidays, Christoph Colombo and MLK. If someone is going to have a holiday, they should at least be nice.”

Mr. Sakellarion raises a lot of important points. How much does the general public really know about Columbus? And does American society really think that Columbus, who infected, enslaved, and abused millions of Natives, is as important as MLK, who protested peacefully for the freedom and equality of everyone, no matter their race. There’s no two ways about it. As long as Columbus Day is celebrated, MLK day can’t be celebrated because the two had opposite philosophies about the basic rights of all human beings.

Columbus day should no longer be celebrated. The day is a marker for the beginning of the abuse, enslavement, and death for millions of Native Americans. In the time from 1494 to 1508, over three million people in the “New World” died, according to study.com, and this all began with Columbus. By celebrating Columbus day, America is supporting the genocide of millions of people who had been thriving for centuries without the interference of Europeans.

Columbus had no right to the lands he “accidentally” bumped into. They were already in use by millions of Native Americans who lived with a respect for the land. Everything changed for the worse on the day Columbus first stumbled onto the Americas. If not for him, Native Americans may not have suffered and died at the hands of a cruel dictator-like man.

So should America really be celebrating Columbus Day? The answer: Absolutely not.

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Columbus Day: A Celebration of Genocide