Columbus Re-Evaluation Day

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lR_fiseSJCo&w=350&h=300]

In 1992, the Metropolitan Opera commissioned The Voyage by Philip Glass to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Columbus‘ rediscovery of the Americas.  The opera more broadly examined exploration and culture clash, which seems like a good way to handle a historic landmark which has since become so controversial…  

The Oatmeal - Columbus day

Copyright Matthew Inman (click for full comic)

I mostly think about Columbus as someone who just happened to have landed on an earth-changing discovery by a nice confluence of circumstances, but Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal makes a case for Columbus as not just some hapless explorer but as a serious, serial abuser of native peoples, namely the Lucayans of today’s Bahamas, the first native Americans encountered by Columbus and his crew.  

The single most potent distillation of arguments against Columbus Day as a federal holiday as I’ve heard…  And to top it all off, Inman does propose a more holiday-worthy alternative to Columbus: Bartolome de las Casas, who started off, like most Europeans, as a destructive force to the Indians and wound up their greatest champion and a seminal human rights advocate.  Much more palatable…

Bartolomé de las Casas, unknown artist.

Bartolomé de las Casas, unknown artist.

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