You Are Still Being Lied To: Howard Zinn’s “Columbus and Western Civilization”

The following is an excerpt of “Columbus and Western Civilization” written by Howard Zinn that appears in the Disinformation anthology You Are Still Being Lied To edited by Russ Kick.

Author’s Note: In the year 1992, the celebration of Columbus Day was different from previous ones in two ways. First, this was the quincentennial, 500 years after Columbus’ landing in this hemisphere. Second, it was a celebration challenged all over the country by people—many of them native Americans but also others—who had “discovered” a Columbus not worth celebrating, and who were rethinking the traditional glorification of “Western civilization.” I gave this talk at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in October 1991. It was published the following year by the Open Magazine Pamphlet Series with the title “Christopher Columbus & the Myth of Human Progress.”

George Orwell, who was a very wise man, wrote: “Who controls the past controls the future. And who controls the present controls the past.” In other words, those who dominate our society are in a position to write our histories. And if they can do that, they can decide our futures. That is why the telling of the Columbus story is important.

Let me make a confession. I knew very little about Columbus until about twelve years ago, when I began writing my book A People’s History of the United States. I had a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University—that is, I had the proper training of a historian, and what I knew about Columbus was pretty much what I had learned in elementary school.

But when I began to write my People’s History, I decided I must learn about Columbus. I had already concluded that I did not want to write just another overview of American history—I knew my point of view would be different. I was going to write about the United States from the point of view of those people who had been largely neglected in the history books: the indigenous Americans, the black slaves, the women, the working people, whether native or immigrant.

I wanted to tell the story of the nation’s industrial progress from the standpoint, not of Rockefeller and Carnegie and Vanderbilt, but of the people who worked in their mines, their oil fields, who lost their limbs or their lives building the railroads.

I wanted to tell the story of wars, not from the standpoint of generals and presidents, not from the standpoint of those military heroes whose statues you see all over this country, but through the eyes of the G.I.s, or through the eyes of “the enemy.” Yes, why not look at the Mexican War, that great military triumph of the United States, from the viewpoint of the Mexicans?

And so, how must I tell the story of Columbus? I concluded, I must see him through the eyes of the people who were here when he arrived, the people he called “Indians” because he thought he was in Asia.

Well, they left no memoirs, no histories. Their culture was an oral culture, not a written one. Besides, they had been wiped out in a few decades after Columbus’ arrival. So I was compelled to turn to the next best thing: the Spaniards who were on the scene at the time. First, Columbus himself. He had kept a journal.

His journal was revealing. He described the people who greeted him when he landed in the Bahamas—they were Arawak Indians, sometimes called Tainos—and told how they waded out into the sea to greet him and his men, who must have looked and sounded like people from another world, and brought them gifts of various kinds. He described them as peaceable, gentle, and said: “They do not bear arms, and do not know them for I showed them a sword—they took it by the edge and cut themselves.”

Throughout his journal, over the next months, Columbus spoke of the native Americans with what seemed like admiring awe: “They are the best people in the world and above all the gentlest—without knowledge of what is evil—nor do they murder or steal…they love their neighbors as themselves and they have the sweetest talk in the world…always laughing.”

And in a letter he wrote to one of his Spanish patrons, Columbus said: “They are very simple and honest and exceedingly liberal with all they have, none of them refusing anything he may possess when he is asked for it. They exhibit great love toward all others in preference to themselves.” But then, in the midst of all this, in his journal, Columbus writes: “They would make fine servants. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

Yes, this was how Columbus saw the Indians—not as hospitable hosts, but as “servants,” to “do whatever we want.”

And what did Columbus want? This is not hard to determine. In the first two weeks of journal entries, there is one word that recurs 75 times: GOLD.

In the standard accounts of Columbus what is emphasized again and again is his religious feeling, his desire to convert the natives to Christianity, his reverence for the Bible. Yes, he was concerned about God. But more about Gold. Just one additional letter. His was a limited alphabet. Yes, all over the island of Hispaniola, where he, his brothers, his men, spent most of their time, he erected crosses. But also, all over the island, they built gallows—340 of them by the year 1500. Crosses and gallows—that deadly historic juxtaposition.

In his quest for gold, Columbus, seeing bits of gold among the Indians, concluded there were huge amounts of it. He ordered the natives to find a certain amount of gold within a certain period of time. And if they did not meet their quota, their arms were hacked off. The others were to learn from this and deliver the gold.

Samuel Eliot Morison, the Harvard historian who was Columbus’ admiring biographer, acknowledged this. He wrote: “Whoever thought up this ghastly system, Columbus was responsible for it, as the only means of producing gold for export…. Those who fled to the mountains were hunted with hounds, and of those who escaped, starvation and disease took toll, while thousands of the poor creatures in desperation took cassava poison to end their miseries.”

Morison continues: “So the policy and acts of Columbus for which he alone was responsible began the depopulation of the terrestrial paradise that was Hispaniola in 1492. Of the original natives, estimated by a modern ethnologist at 300,000 in number, one-third were killed off between 1494 and 1496. By 1508, an enumeration showed only 60,000 alive…. in 1548 Oviedo [Morison is referring to Fernandez de Oviedo, the official Spanish historian of the conquest] doubted whether 500 Indians remained.”

But Columbus could not obtain enough gold to send home to impress the King and Queen and his Spanish financiers, so he decided to send back to Spain another kind of loot: slaves. They rounded up about 1,200 natives, selected 500, and these were sent, jammed together, on the voyage across the Atlantic. Two hundred died on the way, of cold, of sickness.

In Columbus’ journal, an entry of September 1498 reads: “From here one might send, in the name of the Holy Trinity, as many slaves as could be sold…”

What the Spaniards did to the Indians is told in horrifying detail by Bartolomé de las Casas, whose writings give the most thorough account of the Spanish-Indian encounter. Las Casas was a Dominican priest who came to the New World a few years after Columbus, spent 40 years on Hispaniola and nearby islands, and became the leading advocate in Spain for the rights of the natives. Las Casas, in his book The Devastation of the Indies, writes of the Arawaks: “…of all the infinite universe of humanity, these people are the most guileless, the most devoid of wickedness and duplicity…yet into this sheepfold…there came some Spaniards who immediately behaved like ravening beasts…. Their reason for killing and destroying…is that the Christians have an ultimate aim which is to acquire gold…”

The cruelties multiplied. Las Casas saw soldiers stabbing Indians for sport, dashing babies’ heads on rocks. And when the Indians resisted, the Spaniards hunted them down, equipped for killing with horses, armor plate, lances, pikes, rifles, crossbows, and vicious dogs. Indians who took things belonging to the Spaniards—they were not accustomed to the concept of private ownership and gave freely of their own possessions—were beheaded or burned at the stake.

Las Casas’ testimony was corroborated by other eyewitnesses. A group of Dominican friars, addressing the Spanish monarchy in 1519, hoping for the Spanish government to intercede, told about unspeakable atrocities, children thrown to dogs to be devoured, newborn babies born to women prisoners flung into the jungle to die.

Forced labor in the mines and on the land led to much sickness and death. Many children died because their mothers, overworked and starved, had no milk for them. Las Casas, in Cuba, estimated that 7,000 children died in three months.

The greatest toll was taken by sickness, because the Europeans brought with them diseases against which the natives had no immunity: typhoid, typhus, diphtheria, smallpox.

As in any military conquest, women came in for especially brutal treatment. One Italian nobleman named Cuneo recorded an early sexual encounter. The “Admiral” he refers to is Columbus, who, as part of his agreement with the Spanish monarchy, insisted he be made an Admiral. Cuneo wrote:

…I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, whom the said Lord Admiral gave to me and with whom…I conceived desire to take pleasure. I wanted to put my desire into execution but she did not want it and treated me with her finger nails in such a manner that I wished I had never begun. But seeing that, I took a rope and thrashed her well…. Finally we came to an agreement.

There is other evidence which adds up to a picture of widespread rape of native women. Samuel Eliot Morison wrote: “In the Bahamas, Cuba and Hispaniola they found young and beautiful women, who everywhere were naked, in most places accessible, and presumably complaisant.” Who presumes this? Morison, and so many others.

Morison saw the conquest as so many writers after him have done, as one of the great romantic adventures of world history. He seemed to get carried away by what appeared to him as a masculine conquest. He wrote:

Never again may mortal men hope to recapture the amazement, the wonder, the delight of those October days in 1492, when the new world gracefully yielded her virginity to the conquering Castilians.

The language of Cuneo (“we came to an agreement”), and of Morison (“gracefully yielded”) written almost 500 years apart, surely suggests how persistent through modern history has been the mythology that rationalizes sexual brutality by seeing it as “complaisant.”

So, I read Columbus’ journal, I read las Casas. I also read Hans Koning’s pioneering work of our time—Columbus: His Enterprise, which, at the time I wrote my People’s History, was the only contemporary account I could find which departed from the standard treatment.

When my book appeared, I began to get letters from all over the country about it. Here was a book of 600 pages, starting with Columbus, ending with the 1970s, but most of the letters I got from readers were about one subject: Columbus. I could have interpreted this to mean that, since this was the very beginning of the book, that’s all these people had read. But no, it seemed that the Columbus story was simply the part of my book that readers found most startling. Because every American, from elementary school on, learns the Columbus story, and learns it the same way: “In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-Two, Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue.”

How many of you have heard of Tigard, Oregon? Well, I didn’t until, about seven years ago, I began receiving, every semester, a bunch of letters, 20 or 30, from students at one high school in Tigard. It seems that their teacher was having them (knowing high schools, I almost said “forcing them”) read my People’s History. He was photocopying a number of chapters and giving them to the students. And then he had them write letters to me, with comments and questions. Roughly half of them thanked me for giving them data which they had never seen before. The others were angry, or wondered how I got such information, and how I had arrived at such outrageous conclusions.

One high school student named Bethany wrote: “Out of all the articles that I’ve read of yours I found ‘Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress’ the most shocking.” Another student named Brian, seventeen years old, wrote: “An example of the confusion I feel after reading your article concerns Columbus coming to America…. According to you, it seems he came for women, slaves, and gold. You say that Columbus physically abused the Indians that didn’t help him find gold. You’ve said you have gained a lot of this information from Columbus’ own journal. I am wondering if there is such a journal, and if so, why isn’t it part of our history. Why isn’t any of what you say in my history book, or in history books people have access to each day?”

I pondered this letter. It could be interpreted to mean that the writer was indignant that no other history books had told him what I did. Or, as was more likely, he was saying: “I don’t believe a word of what you wrote! You made this up!”

I am not surprised at such reactions. It tells something about the claims of pluralism and diversity in American culture, the pride in our “free society,” that generation after generation has learned exactly the same set of facts about Columbus, and finished their education with the same glaring omissions.

A school teacher in Portland, Oregon, named Bill Bigelow has undertaken a crusade to change the way the Columbus story is taught all over America. He tells of how he sometimes starts a new class. He goes over to a girl sitting in the front row, and takes her purse. She says: “You took my purse!” Bigelow responds: “No, I discovered it.”

Bill Bigelow did a study of recent children’s books on Columbus. He found them remarkably alike in their repetition of the traditional point of view. A typical fifth-grade biography of Columbus begins: “There once was a boy who loved the salty sea.” Well! I can imagine a children’s biography of Attila the Hun beginning with the sentence: “There once was a boy who loved horses.”

Another children’s book in Bigelow’s study, this time for second-graders: “The King and Queen looked at the gold and the Indians. They listened in wonder to Columbus’ stories of adventure. Then they all went to church to pray and sing. Tears of joy filled Columbus’ eyes.”

I once spoke about Columbus to a workshop of school teachers, and one of them suggested that school children were too young to hear of the horrors recounted by las Casas and others. Other teachers disagreed, said children’s stories include plenty of violence, but the perpetrators are witches and monsters and “bad people,” not national heroes who have holidays named after them.

Some of the teachers made suggestions on how the truth could be told in a way that would not frighten children unnecessarily, but that would avoid the falsification of history now taking place.

The argument about children “not being ready to hear the truth” does not account for the fact that in American society, when the children grow up, they still are not told the truth. As I said earlier, right up through graduate school I was not presented with the information that would counter the myths told to me in the early grades. And it is clear that my experience is typical, judging from the shocked reactions to my book that I have received from readers of all ages.

* * * * *

Read more of Howard Zinn’s “Columbus and Western Civilization” and other thought-provoking essays from a variety of contriubtors in Russ Kick’s You Are Still Being Lied To, available on Amazon and in all good bookstores.

In You Are Still Being Lied To, An unprecedented group of researchers including Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Howard Bloom, Sydney Schanberg, Michael Parenti, Riane Eisler, Jim Marrs, and many, many others-investigative reporters, political dissidents, academics, media watchdogs, scientist-philosophers, social critics, and rogue scholars-paints a picture of a world where crucial stories are ignored or actively suppressed and the official version of events has more holes in it than Swiss cheese. A world where real dangers are downplayed and nonexistent dangers are trumpeted. In short, a world where you are being lied to.

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  • skipdgc@yahoo.com

    Why would you expect people from the past to live according to the beliefs and standards of today? Morality is not absolute and we are not the end of the road. The vast majority of the “history” of the human race, which forms the instinctual, emotional and social core of human nature, occurred in our pre-history. What is learned, and ingrained over hundreds of thousands of years does not simply vanish over a few thousand years. We are tribal – we learned to expand our basic social unit by developing tribal behaviors. Columbus was certainly tribal.

    • hunter349

      That is probably the most wrong comment I have seen on here yet. Columbus was fully aware of what he was doing. He was supposedly a devout christian. There were letters sent back by members of Columbus crew asking for Spanish support to help stop the carnage that was going on. It was not a tribal spat. It was unbridled greed running rampant with no authority present to stop it.

  • levi999

    The Spaniards learned all of this inhumanity, cruelty and slavery from their centuries under Moorish rule. They were filled with ethnic rage from the unspeakable offenses and dishonor brought upon them by the Moors.

    Incidentally, the Moors became the Corsairs, who continued their crimes until well after north america and Europe had ended slavery.

    Please, when looking at the bigger picture of history, always take another step after that and look at an even bigger picture. Peoples biases never cease to surprise me. Self interested stories are the only stories I've ever heard.

    • Levi999

      Sorry, I meant “Barbary Corsairs”, not to be confused with “French Corsairs”.

    • Billius

      Oh please, that's like saying that Ted Bundy isn't responsible for his crimes, or at the very least is a sympathetic figure, because he had a bad home life growing up.

      While it may explain what happened, it certainly doesn't excuse it.

    • Informed

      This is a completely factually inaccurate statement. Actually, Spain under the Moors (Muslims) was more peaceful and tolerant than anywhere else in Europe during that time. Muslims, Jews and Christians all had the right to worship as they wished (which is required by the Quran, actually, as “Religions of The Book”), and were engaged in various mutual enterprises, including some intermarrying. It was only when the Christian Ferdinand and Isabella forced the Moors out that Jews were forced to flee or convert at swordpoint, that any remaining Muslims were killed, and the Inquisition became the strongarm muscle for the new Christian kingdom.

      In fact, there is considerable evidence that Columbus was a Catalan of Jewish ancestry. We know he was NOT Italian: he never wrote a word of Italian in his life, but rather, wrote in Catalan. Sorry, Genoa.

      The Moorish-occupied areas of Europe prior to 1492 (the conquest of F&I) were the MOST civilized, most scientifically and culturally advanced areas of Europe. While the Vatican tried to suppress discovery and innovation (as in their burning of Giordano Bruno and torture and imprisonment of Galileo), Moors were busily learning about the universe and innovating in architecture, engineering and music.

      I'm not a Muslim, BTW, and never have been, so don't try to play that card.

      The one who should be learning about “bias in the big picture of history” is YOU, levi. You are ignorant of the facts. I suspect (given your handle), this may be rooted in religious bias, which is an even lower form of ignorance on which to base a perspective on history.

    • painfield

      aren't you getting mixed up with the spanish inquisition?
      Anyway, that was the way to go in that time all over Europe, if any other country had arrived before Columbus it would have been the same thing, varying slightly the intensity of motherfuckiness used.

  • jerryswan

    I grew up with the false side of the Columbus story, But I thought, as for I , that as we grew up Some how, some where I learned the truth, HE and his cohorts were murderous bastards only concerned with Gold and other sources of wealth. Dah… this is not new to me, I am glad to see it. I thought every one knew, the shocker for me is that some don't know the whole story… who's fault is that.
    A worth while article , keep writing. Thank you.

    • erick1234

      i allready knew this!
      And i am from europe
      You should think an american immigrant living on the native americans land knows his
      (grand) grandfathers sins.and deeds of destruction.
      Not only materialy but also mentaly
      the destroying of a race, a believe of a whole continent
      i know the europeans were up to no good.
      Start , at least, with some respect you owe them.
      another story about thanksgiving

      http://getreal.jouwweb.nl/thanksgiving-massacre

      • jerryswan

        Are you pissed about some thing.? I don't understand what it is your trying to say?
        My grand parents immigrated in early 1900's. ?
        I know the story you mentioned about Thanksgiving, I am an American and just about every one I know knows the basic truth about it. It's not a revelation.
        I take Thanks Giving for what it is today, Family, Foot ball and Turkey. I love it.
        Europeans, barbarians, kill all the men rape the women, That's the way it was and much of the face of Europe today is what it is, so.
        What's the point?
        Do you have any native American Friends, well I do and they are welcome to dinner any time and they know it.
        So do my Black, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Muslim, Jewish, English, French, etc. friends.
        Who is going to throw the first stone ?
        One must learn from the past, so as not to repeat it, don't have to go far, just look back to around 1939.
        George Orwell, who was a very wise man, wrote: “Who controls the past controls the future. And who controls the present controls the past.”
        Yeah Yeah, Please pass the Yamms!
        P.S. Are you telling me that I ought to show some respect, that I owe something, well in Europe or not , A lot of the past looks like a sin. Dah! Well it's shared. Dam it, sorry your part of the human race.
        I own up to that.

  • patrickkelley

    There is a great lot of omission here from Zinn as much as has been omitted from the standard history books of which he complains. For example, where are the stories concerning the actions of those Indian tribes who enslaved other Indian tribes, and cannibalized them, even going so far as to castrate young males in order to facilitate the fattening process? This was, I believe, the same island on which Columbus first set foot in the New World, which I think might have been Hispaniola, though I am not certain. Is this what Zinn would consider an example of an enlightened culture, or a peaceable, honorable race of people?

    My point is not to deny the Spanish atrocities of which Zinn speaks, in fact, I would have easily come to the same general conclusion he did without his input, though he does flesh out my general feelings as to what really went on. My point is, he is being rather selective in his presentation of facts. Native Indian tribes were by and large a mix of good and bad just as anything else. Zinn portraying them with such blanket endowments as to their good-hearted natures and generosity does history every bit as much a disservice as those earlier historians who turned Columbus into the mythical figure so many of us are more familiar with than the actual person.

    • Jiro M. Trismegistus

      “I believe…which I think might have been…I am not certain” Well I don’t blame you for not being certain but do some research cite some sources, At least Howard did us that much. After you’ve done a few years of research on the subject come back to us and write your article or book. I’m not disagreeing with you only pointing out that you don’t really have much to say other than whay I believe might have been an assertion from where I stand, but im not certain.

  • D.S.

    Bye bye Dr. Zinn.
    Aug 24 1922 – Jan 27 2010
    And thank you.

  • http://www.stooryduster.co.uk/ Alan Scott

    Do as you would be done by seems a good starting point for morality. But there is also one's point of view, often informed by arrogance and ignorance. See an illustration of that here. http://www.stooryduster.co.uk/skinnymalink

    I used to find it amusing despite being tragic that when the cold war was in full flow how we in the West pitied the poor Russians who were totally deceived by propaganda. It was clear to me and many others that America in particular had it's own brand of equally deceptive steely propaganda albeit covered in a very comfy soft velvet glove.

    • Jiro M. Trismegistus

      shelbyville?

  • mundus

    This is the best thing I've read in quite some time. Friend of mine is letting me borrow the book, this is only going to make me want it more now.

  • Walter Hawn

    American Heritage had a series of books for young adults in the 60s. One of them, “Discovers of the New World” by Josef Berger [1960], dealt with Columbus and covered some of the things you write about, the gallows and the arm hacking, and the thirst for gold (which was, after all, part of the promise C. made to F. and I.). But, it was the only place I recall seeing any of that history.

  • worldwhore3

    obviously columbus wished to enslave the indians and steal their gold. there is overwhelming evidence that columbus was a jew, and jews all want to control people, take their homelands (palestine, european union) and of course control currency (federal reserve).

    this truth is far beyond what the liberal minded people can concieve tho, because we should all love each other, and the jews have just been scapegoats thruout the ages of mankind. lets give the poor old gods chosen people a break here.

    pathetic. im glad this is online for people to at least start looking into.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/6XKJNJHESB2SAPLO7U7SENABUM Ken

    Jim and Lois: This is an article that appeared on one of the sections of my iGoogle called “Disinformation.” I didn't read every word of it, but I found the parts I did read to be informative and enlightening. —Ken

  • http://www.dandyid.org/id/okami okami

    Gold, Guns & God were, or course, to be expected. Queen Isabella of Spain was very devout; she spent as much time as she could helping Columbus, but she had to get back to the Holy Inquisition so that she could help show heretics and witches the error of their ways.

    Spain had recently pushed the Moors out, the country had been more or less unified and Ferdinand and Isabella were busy consolidating their gains, This included the expulsion of remaining Moors and Spanish Jews, as well as Christians who”d strayed from the flock.

    Columbus was a man of the times; he knew which side his bread was buttered on. It showed in his every action.

    Now, the United States makes a point of celebrating Columbus Day, although Columbus never set foot in what is now the US. (“Of course, America was always discovered before, but it was always hushed up.” – Oscar Wilde) Bjarni Herjolfsson & Leif Erickson are more properly discoverers of North America.

    Instead we have a religious, zealous slaver, blinded by dreams of greed and power and fame.

    Sounds like the last administration.

    As is, that thinking has never left us. That’s what got us into Iraq. And now, with about $1 trillion in oil and such estimated lying under the Afghan surface, it would appear that we will be there a while longer, as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mattakunobaka Randy L Benson

    Gold, Guns & God were, or course, to be expected. Queen Isabella of Spain was very devout; she spent as much time as she could helping Columbus, but she had to get back to the Holy Inquisition so that she could help show heretics and witches the error of their ways.

    Spain had recently pushed the Moors out, the country had been more or less unified and Ferdinand and Isabella were busy consolidating their gains, This included the expulsion of remaining Moors and Spanish Jews, as well as Christians who''d strayed from the flock.

    Columbus was a man of the times; he knew which side his bread was buttered on. It showed in his every action.

    Now, the United States makes a point of celebrating Columbus Day, although Columbus never set foot in what is now the US. (“Of course, America was always discovered before, but it was always hushed up.” – Oscar Wilde) Bjarni Herjolfsson & Leif Erickson are more properly discoverers of North America.

    Instead we have a religious, zealous slaver, blinded by dreams of greed and power and fame.

    Sounds like the last administration.

    As is, that thinking has never left us. That's what got us into Iraq. And now, with about $1 trillion in oil and such estimated lying under the Afghan surface, it would appear that we will be there a while longer, as well.

  • Simiantongue

    If you had actually read the book you’d know that comment is not pertinent. I’m speaking to the ten people who “liked” it.

    Zinn lays out clearly at the beginning of his book what perspective he’s writing from. And it’s not some pie in the sky “noble native” myth.

    I get it, you’re coming from some “middle ground” or supposedly objective perspective. Those nasty history books may be wrong but so is Zinn, at least to a point. Which is rubbish. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume that you just haven’t read the book. Because if you had read it and still wrote this then you’re either a damn liar or exceedingly dimwitted. I’d rather think better of people than that so I’ll assume you’re just writing without really knowing what you’re talking about.

  • Simiantongue

    If you had actually read the book you’d know that comment is not pertinent. I’m speaking to the ten people who “liked” it.

    Zinn lays out clearly at the beginning of his book what perspective he’s writing from. And it’s not some pie in the sky “noble native” myth.

    I get it, you’re coming from some “middle ground” or supposedly objective perspective. Those nasty history books may be wrong but so is Zinn, at least to a point. Which is rubbish. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume that you just haven’t read the book. Because if you had read it and still wrote this then you’re either a damn liar or exceedingly dimwitted. I’d rather think better of people than that so I’ll assume you’re just writing without really knowing what you’re talking about.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    Columbus was a product of his culture and
    if it hadn’t been him, it would have been someone else
    doesn’t make it right
    but nothing will ever be able to make it right

    the possibility of other Colombian atrocities has been reduced
    only the US now regularly invades and occupies foreign territories

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    Columbus was a product of his culture and
    if it hadn’t been him, it would have been someone else
    doesn’t make it right
    but nothing will ever be able to make it right

    the possibility of other Colombian atrocities has been reduced
    only the US now regularly invades and occupies foreign territories

  • Commodore Vic

     Zinn is a historian, not an anthropologist. When he describes the behavior and character of the natives he’s quoting Columbus’ journal and other personal records of the time. Reread the article.

  • Commodore Vic

     Zinn is a historian, not an anthropologist. When he describes the behavior and character of the natives he’s quoting Columbus’ journal and other personal records of the time. Reread the article.

  • bobbiethejean

    So? Should we still be celebrating this bastard?

  • bobbiethejean

    So? Should we still be celebrating this bastard?

  • paulvonhartmann

    Of course we’re still being lied to, on a scale of universal misery. An un-free agricultural market was imposed seventy-six years ago. Today, babies are being taken from loving parents in the US, by the power of “untenable” scheduling of the world’s most valuable, unique and essential agricultural resource.

    The California State flag reads “California Republic.” That means we have a State Constitution that overrides Federal jurisdiction. If it didn’t then it would not make sense to even have a State Constitution, or a State government for that matter.

    The politiconomic reality being imposed here, in the most vicious and untenable way, might have greater purchase in reality if there weren’t compounding global emergencies lining up, piling up, right & left, while a time-limited slim chance of biogenic resolution has stared mankind in the face and been a “strategic” part of human culture since before recorded history began.

    The world’s oldest culture is reclaiming its spiritual legitimacy in Hawai’i and California, to begin with.
    “Essential civilian demand” for the “green herb” “hemp”a “strategic” “herb bearing seed” has ancient spiritual legitimacy protected under the First Amendment and the International Declaration of Human Rights.

    Today, in Hawai’i, Judge Kobayashi will rule in a hearing against Reverend Roger Christie, founder of the State-licensed (and broadly judged as being “legitimate”) Hawai’i Cannabis Ministry. Roger is standing up for everyone’s freedom to farm “every herb bearing seed,” the first test of religious freedom.

    If the present politiconomicracy was working, rather than killing our Mother planet, then it might command respect through productive laws. Prohibition is worse than a failure. It is counter-productive to it’s own stated objectives.

    But when babies and children are being taken from their loving families, then the gloves are off on any further bullshit. There is no worse crime than this. It’s worse than “sin.”

    Where are the “pro-lifers” now? The religious community? Shouldn’t they all be coming down on CPS for violating everyone’s right to life, after the baby’s born? No one can argue that ‘marijuana’ is worse for a child than being ripped from his and/or her mother’s breast and put on chemically laden formula.

    Fundamentally, it is the fraudulent scheduling of Cannabis that suspends the reason and justice from “herb law.” Prohibition is the most insidious and destabilizing statute ever conceived by government puppets of toxic industry. A toxic industry is one that finds profit in creating problems then selling the sufferers expensive, unevenly distributed solutions [sic] that don’t work.

    As the result of prohibition, increasing UV-B is broiling the planet, increasing the solubility of aqueous mercury, arsenic and selenium compounds, suppressing immune systems, causing genetic mutation, illness and extinction. The indicator species are all in precipitous decline. If we don’t return these children to their parents, then ultimately, no one’s children will be safe from the increasing radiation toxicity from the Sun, and also now, from Fukushima.

    Raw Cannabis is a dietary essential. It cannot possibly be truly illegal, because it is “startegically” essential to national security and global systemic integrity.

    If we continue to fail to identify Cannabis as both unique and essential to our existence, then we’ll get what we get…that’s a choice we haven’t consciously faced yet, in a coordinated way.

    –PvH

    • DS

      Good grief, man! Get off the weed!

      • paulvonhartmann

        Hey DS,

        STFU & get off the fluoride while you’re at it…

        At least I’m willing to use my whole name and post my photo, in standing up for the Constitution, you spineless, judgmental little troll.

        • DS

          Your silly and incomprehensible screed only proves YOU NEED TO GET OFF THE WEED.

      • paulvonhartmann

        It’s ignorant people like you who are responsible for this little girl’s death.

        Dedicated to the memory of Alexandria Hill,

        http://justice4alex.org/

  • Charlie Primero

    “Their culture was an oral culture, not a written one.”

    Thus, no reason for Zinn to examine that history. Since it was not written, it cannot be true, or have value.

    • paulsimon

      The written word can be deceitful as can the spoken word. Bartolome de las Casas’s testimony is clear, the oral tradition is corroboration. Anyway, why defend Columbus? His own words condemn him.

  • Graham Marco

    The West was at brutal war with itself as well. Why would any nation of the time forsake plunder and territory for a rival to do the same? Another factor ignored.

  • Eric Melton

    Mr. Morrison’s book actually echoes all of this, is also a great read from many of the same sources, including Columbus’s journals. Morison sailed the exact paths of all 4 voyages and wrote his 800-page biography.

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