Christopher Columbus: A Man Who Really Couldn't Bring Himself to Ask For Directions
Today’s going to be a tough day to get any work done since deep in my heart I know I should be spending the day honoring Christopher Columbus, discoverer of the “New World,” master bargainer, title wriggler and generous spreader of all manner of diseases.
Interestingly, I’d never bothered making a comparison between Senor CC and other great leaders of the world, like Dick and Dubya before today, but once I started doing some research, certain things seemed oddly familiar. Listen to this, for example:
After five centuries, Columbus remains a mysterious and controversial figure who has been variously described as… a national hero, a failed administrator, a naive entrepreneur, and a ruthless and greedy imperialist…. By 1502, Columbus had every reason to fear for the security of his position. He had been charged with maladministration in the Indies…Queen Isabel and King Fernando had agreed to Columbus's lavish demands if he succeeded on his first voyage: he would be knighted, appointed Admiral of the Ocean Sea, made the viceroy of any new lands, and awarded ten percent of any new wealth.
And this sums it up pretty nicely: “Some – including many Native Americans – view him as responsible, directly or indirectly, for the deaths of tens, if not hundreds, of millions of indigenous peoples, exploitation of the Americas by Europe, and slavery in the West Indies.” ...My hero!
On the other hand, before we get too worked up on the subject of imperialism and holy delusions of grandeur, let's please remember if it weren’t for Columbus, there’d be no Columbus Avenue, and Upper West Siders would have no way to orient themselves concerning the direction of Broadway and Amsterdam. Plus, were there no Columbus, we all might still be somewhere in Spain, possibly in Ibiza, dancing in clubs full of bubbles and that would, um, suck.
So let's break out the commemorative Nina, Santa Maria and Pinto Bean dip and throw a party to celebrate our first of many "ruthless and greedy imperialist" leaders of the New World! After all, it's probably what God, or at least Bush*, would want us to do.
(*from the Guardian Unlimited: "George Bush has claimed he was on a mission from God when he launched the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a senior Palestinian politician in an interview to be broadcast by the BBC later this month...
One of the delegates, Nabil Shaath, who was Palestinian foreign minister at the time, said: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I am driven with a mission from God'. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did." Mr Bush went on: "And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East'. And, by God, I'm gonna do it.")