Whenever an attempt is made to atone for the past, there will always be those who desperately cling to that past—no matter how feeble the attempt or how horrifying that history is. This can be seen in the racist reactions to issues ranging from emancipation to voting rights to affirmative action.
On April 26, Maine’s own Gov. Janet Mills signed legislation changing the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and as you might imagine, there are some who would rather cling to the past. Instead of giving voice to them (the Internet will do plenty of that without me), I thought we’d play a game called Just How Monstrous Was Christopher Columbus?
The indigenous Arawak people of the Bahama Islands had a reputation for being exceptionally kind and hospitable. Upon meeting them, Columbus wrote in his journal:
a.) “We really lucked out! These. Dudes. Are. DOPE!!”
b.) “You’re never gonna believe it, but ya boi just learned to surf! #Blessed”
c.) “They would make fine servants… With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”
Fill in the Columbus blank: “As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives _____ in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.
a.) out to dinner
b.) to school
c.) by force
One of the things Columbus wanted the natives to do was…
a.) Teach him how to drive stick.
b.) Show him how to use IG stories.
c.) Bring him enormous quantities of gold and cotton under penalty of death.
When Columbus failed at finding gold, he…
a.) Said “adios,” packed it in and headed back to Spain to start a life as a cobbler.
b.) Realized that his entire ethos was deeply flawed and gave it all up to live harmoniously like the Arawak, to whom even social constructs like ownership were useless nonsense.
c.) Kidnapped 1,500 Arawak men, put 500 of them on a ship back to Spain — a journey that killed 200 of them — and upon reaching Spain, the remaining 300 were sold into slavery.
According to Columbus biographer Laurence Bergreen, when Columbus dealt with his own people…
a.) “He was chill AF.”
b.) “He was all about squashing beefs with dance-offs, fam.”
c.) “He even ordered the ears and nose cut off one miscreant, who was also whipped, shackled, and banished from the island. He ordered a cabin boy’s hand nailed in public to the spot where he had pulled a trap from a river and caught a fish. Whippings for minor infractions occurred with alarming frequency. Columbus ordered one wrongdoer to receive a hundred lashes — which could be fatal — for stealing sheep, and another for lying about the incident. An unlucky fellow named Juan Moreno received a hundred lashes for failing to gather enough food for Columbus’s pantry.”
Bartolomé de las Casas was the first Bishop of Chiapas. He was also the priest who joined Columbus on his journey to Cuba. On the abuse the natives suffered at the hands of the Christians, he wrote:
a.) “Wasn’t too bad. Coulda been worse. #ifyouregonnamakeanomelette”
b.) “I can’t believe they’re complaining again. Everyone’s so sensitive these days!”
c.) “And the Christians, with their horses and swords and pikes began to carry out massacres and strange cruelties against them. They attacked the towns and spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women nor women in childbed, not only stabbing them and dismembering them but cutting them to pieces as if dealing with sheep in the slaughter house. They laid bets as to who, with one stroke of the sword, could split a man in two or could cut off his head or spill out his entrails with a single stroke of the pike. They took infants from their mothers’ breasts, snatching them by the legs and pitching them head first against the crags or snatched them by the arms and threw them into the rivers, roaring with laughter and saying as the babies fell into the water, ‘Boil there, you offspring of the devil!’”
Christopher Columbus himself…
a.) Never even set foot on American soil.
b.) Gave enslaved native women to his crew for them to rape.
c.) Sold children into sexual slavery.
d.) Should never have had a day named after him to begin with.
e.) All of the above.