“On Columbus Day, Celebrate Western Civilization, Not Multiculturalism”
The article “On Columbus Day, celebrate Western civilization, not multiculturalism” (2002) is written from the perspective of endorsing Columbus’ actions. The author wants the audience to stop associating Columbus’ accomplishment with the destruction of land through genocide or slavery. Instead, the article promotes the message of acknowledging the idea that the discovery of America led to immense progress, societal growth, innovation, and development.
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This message is evident from the author’s desire to underline the fact that without Columbus, America would remain a barely inhabited, undeveloped, and unused territory. Without agriculture, labor division, written language, and other characteristics of developed societies, people who inhabited the land would be engrossed in “endless bloody wars” (“On Columbus Day, celebrate Western civilization, not multiculturalism,” 2002, para. 6).
Also, there is a mention of the villainification of Western civilization for “glorifying primitivism” (“On Columbus Day, celebrate Western civilization, not multiculturalism,” 2002, para. 6). Thus, the article’s version of events benefits the progress-oriented perspective because it does not accept the idea that all that Columbus did was bringing destruction to America.
With regards to my personal perspective, I choose not to take sides since both views make sense. While it is true that Columbus brought innovation to the previously unknown land, it is true that Indigenous populations lost control of their territories. I think that the struggles of Native Americans should not be swept under the rug by the rhetoric of “most of today’s Indians would be infinitely poorer or not even alive” had it not been for Columbus (“On Columbus Day, celebrate Western civilization, not multiculturalism,” 2002, para. 6).
The article has a slightly aggressive attitude, with which I take issue. Explaining how the discovery of America enriched the country’s history could have been possible without the use of strong epithets and metaphors that point to the lack of social development of Indigenous populations.
“Why Rethink Columbus”
The article by Canku Ota (2001) “Why rethink Columbus” is written from the perspective of Indigenous populations who value their history. The author argues that the story of America’s discovery is often misleading, especially in child education. Instead of endorsing Columbus’ action, it is suggested that the true story that has both the good and the bad should be considered. Clues in the article that align with the Indigenous viewpoint include the history of Columbus’ life as well as encounters of his interactions with Native Americans. For instance, there is a mention of how Taino, an Indigenous tribe, was very afraid of the European newcomers due to their unhealthy habits and the pollution of waters. Because of the gap between the habits of the two populations, their friendly relationships did not last long.
Thus, the article’s version of events benefits the Native American narrative because it explores the history of Columbus’ discovery of the land as a terrifying time for Indigenous populations. It shows that Columbus did not consider the culture and societal values of the new land’s inhabitants. Therefore, it is unlikely that the pro-Columbus view will benefit from this version of events because they depict the explorer and his people in a negative light.
In my opinion, Ota’s (2001) perspective makes sense because history should not be distorted through glorifying accomplishments and diminishing the significance of negative events. While it is hard to take issue with any ideas presented in the article, it should be mentioned that Ota (2001) did not point out any positive outcomes that resulted from Columbus’ discovery of America.
On Columbus Day, celebrate Western civilization, not multiculturalism. (2002). Newsmax. Web.
Ota, C. (2001). Why rethink Columbus. An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America, 2001(46). Web.