It is not uncommon for people to offer praise to individuals for their historical impact. The consternation however, begins when we applaud these individuals in the complete absence of their entire body of work. The case can be made for example of Christophoro Colombo, whom we know better as Christopher Columbus.

Americans who are actually descendents of the first illegal immigrants, will give national praise to this man today for reasons I cannot ascertain, although the excuse is that he discovered America — a place which was already occupied and where people had already been living for centuries prior to his first voyage.

A holiday, in theory, is a day of celebration or honor. If this is the case, let us be clear about what there is to honor or celebrate Columbus for. Outside of making Europeans happy and proud, the only reality was that his voyage to the new world was a harbinger of genocide to non-Europeans. We honor a ruthless slave master and a plundering megalomaniac. He schemed support from the Spanish crown in a manner that would make Wall Street Bankers seeking a bailout proud.

History informs us that Columbus discovered America in October 1492, but it on Oct. 12 of that month that he set sail from the Bahamas’ with his three infamous ships for the coast of Cuba and Hispaniola. I always wondered why the people already there renamed their island after Spain.) I call him a megalomaniac because his main interests were women, conquest and gold. In fact, among the individuals he called “Indians” in Hispaniola, he decreed that they must offer tributes of gold to him or suffer death. The options Columbus offered were either to convert and accept Christianity, or be exploited or enslaved. Ironically, he did not convert too many to Christianity for it reduced the number of folks he could make slaves.

The way I see it, giving Columbus a holiday means you should give one to the man who enslaved, killed and stripped inhabitants of their flesh in Mexico and fed them to the dogs, i.e., a Bartolome de Las Casas holiday too. The celebration of this man is merely a celebration of greed and the near total annihilation of the indigenous people of the places he landed. Thus this past Columbus day as all of the ones before and in the future is just another way for America to honor and celebrate disease and genocide in what they termed the new world. -torrance stephens