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Monday, October 11, 2004

2 more perspectives on columbus

Here are 2 more progressive perspectives on christopher columbus and his holiday.

Why Columbus Offers the Best History Lesson
Published on Monday, October 11, 2004 by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune

by Warren Goldstein
Although I studied to be an American historian for a decade, it never occurred to me that one of the most important things I'd ever do in a classroom would be to teach about Christopher Columbus. For me, Columbus meant a three-day weekend.

But the unorthodox text I'd assigned in an introductory U.S. history course some years ago, Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" -- since made famous by Matt Damon in the movie "Good Will Hunting" -- starts with Columbus, so I gave it a whirl.

Here's how Zinn begins: "Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island's beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat."

Aside from its literary quality, the hint of Eden, and guesswork about the natives' state of mind, the passage asks us to look at the "discovery" upside-down: from the point of view of the people being "discovered." full article

"Who in Future Generations Will Believe This?"

Rethinking Columbus Day


It's not easy to score a federal holiday. There are only ten of them, and only two are named for a specific individual: Martin Luther King, Jr. and today's celebrant, Christopher Columbus. (Although the holiday "Washington's Birthday" still remains on the federal books, it is more commonly referred to as "President's Day," since it symbolizes the birthdays of both Washington and Lincoln.).

Given this high on of the late explorer. A deeper look reveals that it may be time to reassess this annual celebration.

Most everyone knows why it is that we honor Columbus: He "discovered" America. But this claim only holds water if we don't count the natives already on American soil at the time. The claim also fails to pass muster in light of research and scholarship that casts doubt on Columbus being the first European to smack into America, and which also suggests that others outside of Europe may have beaten Columbus to the punch. Evidence suggests that Europeans may have made it over to the Americans in the early 15th century (which is to say nothing of Leif Eriksson's journey in the 11th century). Gavin Menzies, in his book, 1421: The Year the Chinese Discovered America, argues-albeit imperfectly-that the Chinese made their way to America 72 years before Columbus. full article


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