This Monday, October 10th, was Columbus Day. Most people don’t think too much about it- just another day off from school, and extra sleep is always great! But does Christopher Columbus really deserve this whole day dedicated to him? Was he really this hero who discovered America?
This is a controversial topic among many people. Some people think he is a hero who should be celebrated, while others go as far as saying he is as bad as Hitler. Personally, I think that this is a bit too harsh. Columbus did bring the Eastern and
Western hemispheres together, an important turning point in world history. However, I think more people need to be aware of what Columbus really did. Columbus encountered a native population called the Taino and they were eventually decimated because of European’s brutal treatment combined with the disease brought with them. Columbus deliberately enslaved and killed many, and he also brought some natives back to Europe and treated them like some exotic species. For this reason, many people including myself choose to call October 10th Indigenous People’s Day, because Columbus was responsible for the devastation of the entire Taino population.
Because of all this controversy, it is possible that Columbus Day may disappear from our calendars in the future. My AP U.S. History teacher thinks it should stay. He says, “Columbus’s primary intent was to connect the world—to integrate economies and lift the European standard of living. Still today, most people hold that global integration offers more good for people than isolation does. Opening the Atlantic world to interactions, while leading to the demise of people and cultures in the Americas and Africa, laid the foundation for opening up and connecting the world.”
So what do you think? Courageous, adventurous hero or genocide-committing villain? Next time you hear the rhyme “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue”, think about whether or not we should have a whole day set aside to celebrate his actions.
-Riya (teen blogger)