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October 11, 2010

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day!

Today is a U.S. holiday officially known as Columbus Day, in commemoration of Christopher Columbus' (or whatever his real name was) voyage westward in search of a shorter (and thus more profitable) trade route to India and China.

Instead of reaching his goal, he unexpectedly blundered into some islands which were off the coast of a continent that was heretofore unknown to the major powers of Europe. 

Once word of his discovery made it back to Europe, the race to carve up the New World was on.  Spain and Portugal were out of the gate more quickly than the others, and in short order they had staked their claims to most of the western hemisphere.  Not to be left out, France and Britain claimed what they could as well.

Of course, the nomadic peoples who had arrived hundreds or thousands of years before for the most part weren't too keen on welcoming the newcomers, but one by one these people groups were conquered or displaced.

In the minds of many on the left, Everything That Is Wrong With The World today can be traced back to Columbus' arrival at Hispaniola in 1492.  Because of this, Columbus' voyage is not to be celebrated, but rather reviled.  Many have lobbied for the second Monday of October to be renamed Indigenous Peoples Day.  America's very existence is considered to be an affront to human decency.

But is it fair to single out the US for moral culpability in something that is pretty much the natural state of humanity?

How many countries can you name that do not have within their boundary territories in which people groups were at some point in history conquered or displaced?

How many people groups can you name that today occupy territory that has never at any point in history belonged to some other people group?

I am not for a moment excusing any atrocities that may have been committed (and there were many) during the course of colonization, but the simple act of establishing a colony does not ipso facto constitute an atrocity, as some would have us believe.

Personally, I don't see much to celebrate in the character of Columbus the man.  But neither do I see any cause to lay the sufferings of the "indigenous peoples" (a term of art in itself) at his feet.


Nasa Information said...
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Tim said...

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