On October 8, 2018, over 20 states celebrated Columbus Day. However, many other states, like California, did not observe Columbus Day. Columbus Day celebrates the “discovery” of the Americas by Christopher Columbus, an intrepid Italian explorer. Why did all of these states choose not to celebrate Columbus Day? From the perspective of Western civilization, it celebrates a rather astonishing discovery. But was it really so amazing? No.
One can discover a fascinating perspective of the Americas before Christopher Columbus came with his entourage. The Aztec and Inca civilizations were developing, slowly morphing the continent into a fascinating ground with complex geopolitics. The peoples of the Americas were developing and likely would have continued to do so if the Europeans had never arrived. But they did, bringing disease and prejudice that decimated these complex civilizations and their cultures. These civilizations had developed against the odds, evolving even without being in the privileged position of the Europeans, who were located in a region that helped to quicken their development by connecting them to many other complex civilizations from which they could adopt technologies and ideas.
Christopher Columbus never had innocent intentions. He set out from his voyage with the intent to make riches, from any means. He found such means in his exploitation of the Taino people on the island of Hispaniola, now Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the Americas in pursuit of his own greedy purposes doomed the Americas to forced assimilation of all of the Old World’s faults. He also robbed the Western civilization of further development by way of denying them an opportunity to learn and adopt positive attributes from the various cultures of the Americas.
Columbus Day celebrates a man who apparently put into play possibly the greatest cross-cultural interaction in the history of mankind. The true Columbus was a man motivated by greed that annihilated without a thought the people of the Americas by shoving down their throats his culture.
Faced with such a provocative topic, I took it upon myself to survey 25 students of Culver City High School on their thoughts regarding Columbus Day.
A surprising finding in this survey was an overwhelming amount of students who remained neutral on the topic. One of the important factors in students’ responses was whether or not getting rid of Columbus Day would allow them to have a day off from school, suggesting that these students are placing higher priority on their own self-interest rather than the moral concerns of the holiday.