Celebrate Genocide?

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Celebrate Genocide?

Post Number:#1  Postby Scott » October 13th, 2014, 4:40 pm

This Monday October 13th is a federally recognized holiday in the United States called Columbus Day.

But what is being celebrated? Is it something we really want celebrated?

Does it really make sense to celebrate the so-called "discovery" of a land already inhabited by millions of indigenous people who would then be subjected to massive genocide?

For people who grew up celebrating things like Columbus Day, or who have some kind of faith in traditional values or conservative style patriotism, the obvious answer to the question would probably cause quite a bit of cognitive dissonance.

Some people might question the fact that the genocide of the indigenous people in the Americas was one of if not the biggest genocide in history. But the facts speak for themselves. From when Columbus landed in the Americas to the end of the the 19th century, the indigenous population declined from roughly 50 million to less than 1.8 million, a decline of 96% (source).

Some people might still think to argue that, while sure statistically the indigenous people were wiped out by the millions, it is not necessarily genocide. Indeed, genocide is a crime of which a crucial part is intent, generally requiring systematic efforts. However, again the historical facts seem to speak for themselves. For some first exhibits, consider: The Trail of Tears, the Sand Creek Massacre, the Mendocino War and the subsequent Round Valley War--the latter two of which brought the entire Yuki people to the brink of extinction. From evidence such as the precceeding exhibits, we see that, as and after the colonists invaded, systematic, military efforts were used to intentionally displace and destroy native culture, civilization and lives to replace it with the colonists'.

Some people might point out that infectious diseases killed a lot of the natives. However, the exhibits above show that a lot of natives died as a result of warfare, violent colonization and the intention to steal progressively larger plots of land from the people who had been using it through a destruction of their culture, ruining or removing them from their homes, and simply killing them. Disease-caused death may have made the genocide more opportune and effective. Moreover, regarding disease, although it has been of much debate, there are in fact cases of historically documented germ warfare, namely when British commander Jeffery Amherst authorized the intentional use of disease as a biological weapon against indigenous populations in the Americas (source)--such as by using the infamous smallpox blankets.

So what do you think? Does it make sense to celebrate the "discovery" of a land inhabited by millions of people who would later be subjected to resulting genocide? Is Columbus Day just a celebration of genocide? Are the people who instead celebrate something like Indigenous Peoples Day doing something that makes more sense, or would it most preferable to forget the holiday altogether?
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Celebrate Genocide?



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Re: Celebrate Genocide?

Post Number:#2  Postby Spiral Out » October 13th, 2014, 6:55 pm

Isn't Columbus Day just a celebration of the concept of exploration and discovery?

Can we celebrate the more positive aspects of historical events without attaching all of the associated, perhaps even unintended aftereffects of the historical event? Must we attach all of the negative associated aspects (no matter how far removed) of every event throughout history to our holidays? If we did that then I don't think we would be celebrating very much at all.

I think that if we dig deep enough, we'll find that we celebrate all kinds of holidays that have much darker realities associated with them.

Besides, I don't think that anyone is celebrating Columbus Day for the deaths of Native Americans in saying" hooray, the Native Americans are dead!", any more than anyone is celebrating Good Friday for the death of Jesus in saying "hooray, Jesus is dead!".
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Re: Celebrate Genocide?

Post Number:#3  Postby Scott » October 13th, 2014, 8:04 pm

Spiral Out wrote:Isn't Columbus Day just a celebration of the concept of exploration and discovery?

No, I don't see any reason to believe that.

I see reason to believe the opposite, considering that Columbus wasn't much of an explorer or discoverer as much as someone who set out to christianize India but inadvertently went to the Americas, where he lead men who proudly raped and killed the natives and wrote about occupying and enslaving them. There are many other historical figures who much, much more represent discovery and exploration as opposed to invasion and brutality.

More succinctly, the reason it doesn't seem to represent "discovery" is the reason clearly laid out in the OP. It doesn't make sense to talk of 'discovering' a land inhabited by millions of people, who would then be subject to genocide.

Spiral Out wrote:Can we celebrate the more positive aspects of historical events without attaching all of the associated, perhaps even unintended aftereffects of the historical event? Must we attach all of the negative associated aspects (no matter how far removed) of every event throughout history to our holidays?

We could. We could declare August 12 to be Richard Reid Day and celebrate on that day--celebrating the concept of creative chemistry not trying to shoebomb innocent people on a plane. We could celebrate the positive aspects of mustaches on Hitler's birthday. We could declare his birthday Mustache Day. However, I don't see the value in maintaining historical revisionism simply to preserve racist, irrationally patriotic, archaic cultural traditions or for the sake of positivity. There are plenty of positive things in history we could celebrate, but Columbus and what he and his men did is not one of them.

Spiral Out wrote:If we did that then I don't think we would be celebrating very much at all.

Sure, nobody's perfect, but there are a lot of figures much, much more worth celebrating than Columbus.

Spiral Out wrote:I think that if we dig deep enough, we'll find that we celebrate all kinds of holidays that have mch darker realities associated with them.

Agreed. I think a lot of traditional values and culture needs to be examined.

Spiral Out wrote:Besides, I don't think that anyone is celebrating Columbus Day for the deaths of Native Americans in saying" hooray, the Native Americans are dead!", any more than anyone is celebrating Good Friday for the death of Jesus in saying "hooray, Jesus is dead!".

If the death of the natives is to be observed by those observing the holiday in question in October in the way that the alleged death of Jesus is observed on Good Friday, then perhaps those who have renamed the holiday to Indigenous People's Day indeed are doing something that makes much more sense. Otherwise, Good Friday might be renamed Christkiller's Day, and Holocaust Remembrance Day could be renamed Hitler Day. Thus, argumentum ad absurdum, "Columbus Day" isn't about sympathizing with the victims of the holiday's namesake.

-- Updated 13 Oct 2014 07:24 pm to add the following --

Now seems like a good time to add some Columbus quotes that illustrate what kind of concepts represented by the man and presumably any holiday bearing his name:

Katie Halper of Rawstory wrote:
1. Conquest: the perfect chaser for expelling Muslims and Jews. You don’t have to be an academic to link Spain’s colonial expansion abroad with its inquisition at home. Columbus made the connection himself. Of course he saw this as a good thing, not a bad one– a killer combo, if you will. He wrote to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain

Columbus wrote:YOUR HIGHNESSES, as Catholic Christians and Princes who love the holy Christian faith, and the propagation of it, and who are enemies to the sect of Mahoma [Islam] and to all idolatries and heresies, resolved to send me, Cristóbal Colon, to the said parts of India to see the said princes … with a view that they might be converted to our holy faith …. Thus, after having turned out all the Jews from all your kingdoms and lordships … your Highnesses gave orders to me that with a sufficient fleet I should go to the said parts of India …. I shall forget sleep, and shall work at the business of navigation, so that the service is performed.


2. These Natives are so nice, we’d be crazy not to enslave them! This excerpt from Columbus’ diary describes the Arawak people who greeted him and his men:

Columbus wrote:They … brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned… . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… . They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.


3. I was right about how easy that whole subjugation thing would be! In another letter to King Ferdinand, Columbus wrote

Columbus wrote:As soon as I arrived in the Indies, in the first island which I found, I took some of the natives by force, in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts. And so it was that they soon understood us, and we them, either by speech or by signs, and they have been very serviceable.



4. Rape! Columbus was such a mensch, he would let his men do whatever they wanted with the natives they captured. One of his men and a childhood friend of Columbus, Michele da Cuneo, describes in a letter how he raped a native woman:

While I was in the boat, I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, whom the said Lord Admiral gave to me. When I had taken her to my cabin she was naked—as was their custom. I was filled with a desire to take my pleasure with her and attempted to satisfy my desire. She was unwilling, and so treated me with her nails that I wished I had never begun. But—to cut a long story short—I then took a piece of rope and whipped her soundly, and she let forth such incredible screams that you would not have believed your ears. Eventually we came to such terms, I assure you, that you would have thought that she had been brought up in a school for whores.



5. Not so Christian. But the anecdote captured above was not some isolated incident of cruelty. Ironically, but in no way surprisingly, the Spanish who came to save the “heathens” from their idolatry, weren’t very Christ-like in their behavior. In his book The Devastation of the Indies. Bartolome de las Casas, the priest who accompanied Columbus on his conquest of Cuba, detailed the abuse and murder of the native population:

Endless testimonies . .. prove the mild and pacific temperament of the natives…. But our work was to exasperate, ravage, kill, mangle and destroy

And the Christians, with their horses and swords and pikes began to carry out massacres and strange cruelties against them. They attacked the towns and spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women nor women in childbed, not only stabbing them and dismembering them but cutting them to pieces as if dealing with sheep in the slaughter house. They laid bets as to who, with one stroke of the sword, could split a man in two or could cut off his head or spill out his entrails with a single stroke of the pike. They took infants from their mothers’ breasts, snatching them by the legs and pitching them head first against the crags or snatched them by the arms and threw them into the rivers, roaring with laughter and saying as the babies fell into the water, “Boil there, you offspring of the devil!” Other infants they put to the sword along with their mothers and anyone else who happened to be nearby. They made some low wide gallows on which the hanged victim’s feet almost touched the ground, stringing up their victims in lots of thirteen, in memory of Our Redeemer and His twelve Apostles, then set burning wood at their feet and thus burned them alive. To others they attached straw or wrapped their whole bodies in straw and set them afire. With still others, all those they wanted to capture alive, they cut off their hands and hung them round the victim’s neck, saying, “Go now, carry the message,” meaning, Take the news to the Indians who have fled to the mountains. They usually dealt with the chieftains and nobles in the following way: they made a grid of rods which they placed on forked sticks, then lashed the victims to the grid and lighted a smoldering fire underneath, so that little by little, as those captives screamed in despair and torment, their souls would leave them….


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Re: Celebrate Genocide?

Post Number:#4  Postby Finvaara » October 13th, 2014, 10:26 pm

I grew up in Oklahoma, and my education on the natives of north america is based in that context. They don't teach kids that Christopher Columbus was a rapist and a murderer and a religious zealot. They DO teach children that the crimes perpetrated against The Five Civilized Tribes and all the others were wrong, unwarranted, and uniformly horrible.

Do I think that it's right that Christopher Columbus gets a bank holiday?

In short, no.

Do I think that people are horrible for perpetuating the whitewashing of Columbus' escapades in an attempt to find pride in the founding of The United States? That area is actually a little bit more muddy.

Every single person on this earth is imperfect, and insomuch as every human being is imperfect, that's completely appropriate. Imagining that there is any historical figure that was entirely altruistic, clever, honorable, and friendly is an exercise in fantasy.

Nevertheless, celebrating the things we like about history and moving on from the mistakes our forefathers made is something that can be seen as positive. I don't approve of lies, and I don't approve of the suppression of information. I do, however, approve of being matter-of-fact and concise with our founders' faults and taking considerably more time to examine and analyze their virtues. It is a form of forgiveness that we still have the power to grant to those that otherwise might receive none.

Hitler is dead, and I don't know anything positive about the man. I do feel a little sad about that. I know plenty of what Columbus did wrong, sure, but I believe his patriotism and his zeal were admirable even if they were misplaced in my opinion. I'm certain that someday, if I keep trying, eventually I'll even learn something redeeming about Rupert Murdock.

In the end I say down with Columbus Day. Let's have something more useful, like Malala Yousafzai Day. Just don't go thumbing your nose at folks who like to remember Columbus Day. Somebody ought to.
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Re: Celebrate Genocide?

Post Number:#5  Postby Spectrum » October 13th, 2014, 10:34 pm

It would appear that 'Columbus Day' is recognized for its positive elements and out of ignorance of its genocide elements and history. I think what is more important is the need for another day as public holiday during that time of the year and 'Columbus Day' was just something to support it. How about 'Ebola Day' i.e. to bring awareness to dangerous virus. :lol:

If the evil intents and genocide committed is true as stated in the Rawstory Site is true, it should be replaced with another name, i.e. when the majority are aware of the truth of such evils.

The genocidal evils stated in the Rawstory Site is very similar to what ISIS is doing at present. Seems that is the basic ethos of the Abrahamic religions when the opportunity is open to SOME believers.

-- Updated Mon Oct 13, 2014 9:34 pm to add the following --

Spectrum wrote:It would appear that 'Columbus Day' is recognized for its positive elements and out of ignorance of its genocide elements and history. I think what is more important is the need for another day as public holiday during that time of the year and 'Columbus Day' was just something to support it. How about 'Ebola Day' i.e. to bring awareness to dangerous viruses and the need to be VERY careful with them. :lol:

If the evil intents and genocide committed is true as stated in the Rawstory Site is true, it should be replaced with another name, i.e. when the majority are aware of the truth of such evils.

The genocidal evils stated in the Rawstory Site is very similar to what ISIS is doing at present. Seems that is the basic ethos of the Abrahamic religions when the opportunity is open to SOME believers.
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Re: Celebrate Genocide?

Post Number:#6  Postby Jklint » October 13th, 2014, 11:04 pm

One of the greatest anomalies in the entire Western World and one of the most difficult things to understand is in what way did Christianity ever conform to Christ's teachings? There was nothing inherently special about Columbus but being as universally known as he is he should serve as an indictment to the entire Christian world view in which he was trained which reeks more of Caligula than St. Francis.

So much of history needs to be reexamined and rewritten, nothing spared, starting with the 20th century, a project which is seemingly already in momentum based on the number of revisions which counter the old stories more fiction than history which makes Columbus Day a travesty.
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Re: Celebrate Genocide?

Post Number:#7  Postby Grotto19 » October 13th, 2014, 11:46 pm

Scott I feel you are overelaborating here, regarding what the holiday is. I have to agree with Spiral Out about the nature of it. The holiday (at least as I was taught) was about an explorer who petitioned repeatedly to seek a trade route to India, because he did not believe the earth was flat, and that he could prove otherwise. He felt he could prove there was a western passage to the other side of the world.

Included in that story is that it was a failure, regarding reaching India at least. But it demonstrated the importance of not simply agreeing with the powers that be and pushing for intellectual advance despite rejection. More fundamentally it is a story of how mainstream science often gets something wrong and that it takes diligence and determination to overcome the social pressure of the current status quo. Is it the true story or the whole story, no it is not. But what holiday is?

The last holiday we should crush out of existence is the one that promotes the success of critical thinking. As philosophers we should relish the fact this Holliday has survived. Amongst the gross basterdizations of Thanksgiving (the story of how we took the gifts of unsuspecting tribals to sustain us so that we could come back and utterly rape and murder them) and Christmas and Easter, where we remove every element which could be construed as to the point about the event and reduce it to consumerism, and some giant fat ass in a red suit or a hare. Or we could look at the celebration of Memorial Day and Labor Day which celebrate the abuse of our citizens. I would say compared to these holidays Columbus day starts looking pretty good, if for no other reason than because it is the only one which promotes some form of reason, something which our nation is in dire need of support.
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Re: Celebrate Genocide?

Post Number:#8  Postby Jklint » October 14th, 2014, 12:30 am

Grotto19 wrote:The holiday (at least as I was taught) was about an explorer who petitioned repeatedly to seek a trade route to India, because he did not believe the earth was flat, and that he could prove otherwise. He felt he could prove there was a western passage to the other side of the world.


Columbus would have been laughed at had he he attempted to prove that the earth was not flat. Everyone in the Middle Ages and long before understood that. The most polite reply to that would likely have been "what else is new?"

That was the kind of phony baloney taught in grade school many years ago.
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Re: Celebrate Genocide?

Post Number:#9  Postby Grotto19 » October 14th, 2014, 12:56 am

Then how can you explain the funding from Spain which allowed his expedition of Galleons (not cheap) into the west. He didn’t do it with his own money. Clearly someone supported his endeavor. I can assure you that nobles did not give away their monies to non-noble expeditions for no reason during that period. So I would have to say that resoundingly the evidence supports your statement as false, the documentation may be distorted but clearly some people in the middle ages were willing to test the flat earth hypothesis.
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Re: Celebrate Genocide?

Post Number:#10  Postby Theophane » October 14th, 2014, 1:35 am

One man's genocide is another man's manifest destiny. If all morality is relative, it would seem that the definition of genocide comes from whomever you see as sympathetic. Who has the right to military conquest and who does not? Who has the right to shape history using the sword/gun and who does not? History seems to tell us that might makes right, that the weak must fall to the strong. If good and evil (objective morality) are empty signifiers, why is genocide abominable?
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Re: Celebrate Genocide?

Post Number:#11  Postby Jklint » October 14th, 2014, 1:37 am

Grotto19 wrote:Then how can you explain the funding from Spain which allowed his expedition of Galleons (not cheap) into the west. He didn’t do it with his own money. Clearly someone supported his endeavor. I can assure you that nobles did not give away their monies to non-noble expeditions for no reason during that period. So I would have to say that resoundingly the evidence supports your statement as false, the documentation may be distorted but clearly some people in the middle ages were willing to test the flat earth hypothesis.


The funding from Spain was definitely not meant for Columbus to prove that the earth was not flat. The financiers would have considered that the worst investment imaginable. It was well understood even then that Asia was in reach going WEST!

So I would have to say that resoundingly the evidence supports your statement as false...

"Resoundingly!!" Your certainty is akin to comedy! No doubt the following articles are also resoundingly false.

washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/p ... _blog.html

europeanhistory.about.com/od/historical ... myths7.htm

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Flat_Earth
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Re: Celebrate Genocide?

Post Number:#12  Postby Theophane » October 14th, 2014, 1:37 am

One man's genocide is another man's manifest destiny. If all morality is relative, it would seem that the definition of genocide comes from whomever you see as sympathetic. Who has the right to military conquest and who does not? Who has the right to shape history using the sword/gun and who does not? History seems to tell us that might makes right, that the weak must fall to the strong. If good and evil (objective morality) are empty signifiers, why is genocide abominable?

-- Updated October 14th, 2014, 1:45 am to add the following --

Theophane wrote:One man's genocide is another man's manifest destiny. If all morality is relative, it would seem that the definition of genocide comes from whomever you see as sympathetic. Who has the right to military conquest and who does not? Who has the right to shape history using the sword/gun and who does not? History seems to tell us that might makes right, that the weak must fall to the strong. If good and evil (objective morality) are empty signifiers, why is genocide abominable?
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Re: Celebrate Genocide?

Post Number:#13  Postby Spiral Out » October 14th, 2014, 9:26 pm

Scott wrote:There are plenty of positive things in history we could celebrate


As far as "history" goes, I would agree with Napoleon Bonaparte where he is credited in saying that "history is a set of lies agreed upon".

I doubt you could find anything historic to celebrate as a holiday that is either accurately represented in its 'positive' aspects or is sufficiently without its own scandal.
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Re: Celebrate Genocide?

Post Number:#14  Postby Theophane » October 16th, 2014, 10:59 am

If you are devoutly committed to doing so, you can find obscenity and horror lurking behind everything. This is supposed to be the mark of great intellect. :roll:
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Re: Celebrate Genocide?

Post Number:#15  Postby Logic_ill » October 16th, 2014, 12:01 pm

I have to admit to having have fun with this thread, especially with Grotto´s remarks. I agree with almost everything that is being said about how maybe none of "our celebrations" are historically accurate. If I could, I probably would scratch many of them out of the calendar, but in a certain sense I am grateful for them. I think it reflects an earlier type of thinking from an earlier people, and I happen to learn from it. What is there to learn without evidence?

Anyhow, I do visibly descend from the native indians or american indians, so this "celebration" has much significance...
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