Its hard to defend a lot of actions of the Europeans and even the Americans when it comes to building the new known as the Western Hemisphere and/or the Americas.
Columbus day used to be a very big deal, not just for the Italians, but for the Spanish and Hispanic Communities as well. Somewhere in time, we became such a society of hatred that we denounced Columbus, or anything having to do with something that was once plagued with problems. Granted, slavery was no small issue, in fact, its monumental and one of the worst acts humanity has ever seen. But the facts overlooked are that the kings of Africa sold unwanted prisoners they could not feed to the Europeans. Exportation of prisoners of war were a blessing to rival African Tribes and/or peoples. If someone said to you “I want to give you $1000 for every neighbor you hate, every person that ever wronged or betrayed you and every murderer, rapist, robber and soldier who killed a member of your family, I will take them very far away where you will never see them again” – what would your reaction be? I think its obvious. No, I hope no one would sell their own people into slavery, but then again, if someone raped your wife, sister, daughter and/or killed a member of your family there would be a little less love and a lot more consideration to a large paycheck. In no way am I advocating that what was done correct. Even Thomas Jefferson said “it is wrong for a person to own another human being”. But there is this myth that Europeans invaded parts of Africa and with armies of hundreds or thousands outnumbered inhabitants, put them in chains, loaded them on to a ship and took them away to work long, hard hours with no compensation other than food and a place to sleep. The irony is, it was probably better than where they were, being in prison and barely being fed and having to live and sleep in the worst conditions.
This history and matter deserves much more than one blog entry, but instead of blaming Columbus for all this world’s problems, let’s remember that it was the people that paid for his voyage that insisted he bring back gold and other resources to finance his “trip” and not only did we discover the other half of our world, but its paid all the rest of the world back very well. The culture of the Americas is just as vast and diverse as the rest of the world. If not for the United States, all of Europe and probably parts of Russia, Asia and even Africa would be speaking German if not for the intervention of the USA in World War I & II.
On the leisurely side, let’s not forget that it was here in the USA that movies, the telephone, electricity, the lightbulb, recorded music, Rock & Roll and so many other things contributed gave the world not only a source of great entertainment, but humanitarian benefit, as well as opportunities for people all over the world to benefit.
The Americas developed and invented tools to help the rest of the world in respect to music, movies, electronics, medicine, computers and the internet, just to name a few. And, while slavery played a role in all of this, let’s not forget how far we have come with the USA electing its first black president, and all the entertainers, sports figures, singers, doctors, lawyers and every other profession becoming just as powerful as the rest of the population. It was a long road, but we finally got here. In addition, billions of dollars in AID has gone back to Africa to the poorest of peoples as a result. Everytime there is a famine food and aid is sent. $1 Billion by President GW Bush alone was given to Africa to help end the terminal illness of AIDs. We can go on here for quite some time. But my only point is, rather than condemn one great explorer and brave person as the cause of these problems, let’s recognize it was the people that financed him to find the New World are to blame and let’s focus on where we would NOT be if not for the discovery of the Americas.
Happy Columbus Day.