Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Better late than never?

Columbus day was yesterday, and though I wanted to post these thoughts yesterday I as busy working, writing, and watching television to get it done. I haven't really been able to focus, but I'll get to that in a bit. First Christopher Columbus.

In the New York Times there was this whole article about where Columbus was from. There is a debate (apparently) as to Columbus's true origins. Whether he was a poor boy from Genoa, or the illegitimate son of Portuguese Royalty, or Catalonian, or a Crypto-Jew hiding from the inquisition, or some other theory that I can't recall at the moment. The Italians claim he is Italian (which is why Columbus day is a big deal for Italian-American communities), the Portuguese claim he is Portuguese, and so forth. Everyone wants to claim him for their own. To which I say, why? What is the point in claiming this man, the last man to discover the "new world," as their own. What does it give them in return? Bragging rights, even though (save the Spanish) if he had stayed in any of his purported homelands, he wouldn't have ever sailed. What sort of bragging right is that? I guess the Spanish have something, that they allowed him to sail, but that is true whether he is native to Spain or not, so why does it matter if he was from Catalonia, or Majorica (an island of the coast of Spain, which I think is another place some historians claim he was from)? And the Jewish thing isn't very credible, in my opinion, and even if he was Jewish, it doesn't help us or anything, especially as part of his argument to travel was to spread the faith in Christ. Not a particularly Jewish thing to do.

And for the record, Columbus was the last person ever to discover America. I'm pretty sure it was found first by the Native peoples who migrated during the ice age (and as far as I'm concerned, if your people have been in the same place since the ice age, that's about as native as anyone in the world can claim to be). Then the Vikings came to North America around 1000 A.D. And last but not least we can't forget (though hotly disputed) the Chinese discovery of the new world about seventy years before Columbus set sail.

But I guess if one is native, a Nordic heathen, or Asian, then the discovery doesn't count. Only European Christians ever discovered anything.

Granted, Columbus did set off the first wave of colonialism in the new world which would eventually lead to other European nations coming over, giving us the country we know and love today. So on that note he is important. But I don't remember ever learning that in school as to why we celebrate Columbus day, it's always because he discovered America. I don't mind celebrating, I just wish we were more honest about his historical importance in the celebration.

But don't mind me, I'm just bitter for unrelated reasons, which I'm still not ready to get into yet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am sorry for whatever’s making you bitter. I wish I knew a real cure (mine is cultivating a few
temporary delusions). There must be use for bitterness in the world: rebellion, revolution, revelation...