Monday, October 13, 2014

CC explorer slave trader

Dare I jump into the Columbus Day (or the new counter-celebration name Indigenous Peoples' Day)  controversy?

Painting by Sebastiano del Piombo

Just like life, history is complicated.  Even when I was a kid (almost ancient history) there were different opinions about Chris vs. Leif being the first European explorer "to discover" our continent.  Between these two, Chris certainly had better backing and support.  Also, Chris is endorsed by the Knights of Columbus.

The first people to find our land of course were the ancestors of the native people.  There is no disagreement that they were already living here when Chris and his crew showed up. The archeological evidence suggests that the Paleo-Indians' first "widespread" habitation of the Americas occurred during the end of the last glacial period around 16,500–13,000 years ago.  So even Leif might have met a greeting party had he looked around long enough.

Today the controversy is more about character of the group Chris lead over here.  He had promised his backers plenty of gold.  Face with coming up short he brought back the natives as slaves to be sold.  In today's world Chris would be hunted down for his human trafficking and killing.  But he didn't live in today's world which also offers better ships, communication and GPS navigation.

I think we should celebrate him as an explorer willing to lead his crew into the unknown.  The in-depth study of his exploration should include a discussion/comparison of his actions to currently accepted laws and ethics.  No need to bury it in the sand.

The John Oliver show took a humorous look at this controversial celebration.  He points out the Chris and his crew started the long tradition of obnoxious white people visiting Caribbean islands and acting like they own the place.  I wouldn't argue that point. 

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