Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress

Howard Zinn has, what I have found to be, an interesting perspective on history. I believe
Zinn’s thesis in this article, Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress to be, “If history is to
be creative, to anticipate a possible future without denying the past, it should, I believe,
emphasize new possibilities by disclosing those hidden episodes of the past when, even if in brief
flashes, people showed their ability to resist, to join together, occasionally to win.” Zinn first
begins with telling of Christopher Columbus’ journey to lands on the other side of the Atlantic
and how he ended up on a island with very generous and kind people. These people were called
Arawaks and it was said they were very much similar to Indians. Columbus has been known as
being this heroic sailor to have discovered new countries and so forth. Based on this article by
Howard Zinn Columbus was also a very cruel and sadistic murderer that allowed his greed to get
the best of him. Columbus tortured the Indians and made them less than human; he treated them
as animals. He then took them back to Spain where the Arawaks were no longer a free people
but instead slaves to people who they would’ve willingly helped if they had only asked instead of
forced. This article tells of how a people has become extinct by other people. Zinn is telling the
untold truths of Christopher Columbus which are not found in our textbooks and schools. Zinn’s
goal is to speak for the Arawaks and other “people” whose side of the story has been left behind
in the past and to provide readers with the unknown facts.
I found a lot of what Zinn stated in this article to be very interesting and some of what he stated I agreed with. I was a little shock to know this truth of Christopher Columbus although I
have heard mention in the past that he really wasn’t this spectacular guy our school textbooks
wanted us to believe but I never imagined it was to this extent. This article has changed my
perspective of Columbus and makes me question why exactly we celebrate a day in his honor.
To me that is like saying we pick one of he slave masters of the Africans that were brought here
to the United States and celebrate their life. This is not to say that I do not think his discoveries
were not something to celebrate but we need to stop hiding the truths about people just because
of their title or the little good they have done in their life.

No comments: