Surely, Amesh Adalja M.D. was trying to bait a rebuttal with his Oct. 17 letter “Heroic Columbus.” I’ll take the bait.
He wrote, “Christopher Columbus can be seen exclusively in one light — a radiant glow suitable for hero worship,” and, “Columbus’ pathbreaking voyage in 1492 ushered in the Age of Discovery and, as such, launched mankind on a direct trajectory to 1776.”
Putting aside the fact Columbus never touched continental America, which many before him did, what Columbus really accomplished was ushering in the age of European colonialism, slavery and genocide to the Americas. He was no hero by any measure.
In 1492, Columbus and his crew landed on Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic) where they were greeted warmly by the native Arawaks. Columbus soon turned them into slaves to mine for non-existent gold or have their ears and hands cut off for not producing gold. He used the native girls as prostitutes for his men.
Columbus wrote in his journal “A hundred Castellanos are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from 9 to 10 are now in demand.”
Columbus’ men unleashed their dogs of war on the natives for sport and watched as the dogs devoured the victims. And, they forced the natives to carry the soldiers on their backs like beasts of burden.
In 1496, Columbus wrote to Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, “In the name of the Holy Trinity, we can send from here all the slaves and brazil-wood which could be sold.” And so, he began the business of exporting Hispaniola’s inhabitants as slaves.
By 1500, More than 250,000 Arawaks had been killed by Columbus and his men, and Columbus had been taken back to Spain in chains for his mismanagement of his “discovery.”
By 1550, all the natives of that island were gone and were being replaced by African slaves.
Perhaps the letter writer should stop reading fairy tales and read history. Then, he might join the drive to get rid of Columbus Day as an American holiday.