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American Indian Movement of Colorado

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Friday, October 08, 2004

"columbus critics miss the boat" claims clueless Denver Post columnist

For anyone that may not be familiar with columnist David Harsanyi,(and we assume that most people aren't) he is a transplant to Colorado, presumably hired by the Denver Post to offer opinions that reflect the sentiments of its conservative readers. Based on his October 7th article, we could reasonably conclude that the Denver Post believes its conservative readers to be a clueless bunch. Why else would they have served them a column that makes those of Ken Hamblin seem scholarly in comparison?

Harsanyi's column begins with this accurate observation;"Columbus Day is again upon us." We don't dispute this but it's probably one of the few accurate statements that Harsanyi puts forth.

In his very next sentence, Harsanyi tries to describe what he believes to be some key elements that define the "convoy of conquest" and the opposition to it.

His statement.
A parade. Balloons. Cops. Violence. Recrimination. Pseudo-historical ranting. full article


Yes, there are cops but where is the violence that he cites? Harsanyi doesn't explain or substantiate why "violence" would be a descriptor that applies to any of the past convoy protests but, as we'll see, he doesn't bother to substantiate most of what he claims.

Perhaps in a fit of ironic compulsion, Harsanyi adds "pseudo-historical ranting" to his list of columbus day themes, before he goes on to fabricate a history of the protests in Denver. We'll get back to this in a bit but let's continue down his column.

Christopher Columbus is often compared to Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin. The Genoese explorer doesn't belong in any conversation that includes genocidal dictators. Quite the opposite.


As we stated, Harsanyi doesn't bother to substantiate or explain his positions and this is just one example. Colorado AIM has cited and produced historical documents that detail the crimes of Christopher Columbus. There are numerous articles, essays and books that describe the genocide committed against the Indigenous Peopls of the Carribeans. They are available on various websites and in most public libraries. Rather than offering any counter-evidence, Harsanyi simply states that Columbus "doesn't belong in any conversation that includes genocidal dictators" and leaves it at that. He doesn't even bother to make anything up. Not that he is incapable of fabrications and lies as we see in his two next paragraph.

But Vernon Bellecourt, the principal spokesman for the American Indian Movement, has fought against Columbus Day for decades and lent a helping hand in organizing the protests here in Denver.

By 1991, his brand of "civil disobedience" became so violent in Denver that Columbus Day parades ended for the rest of the decade. When the parade was resuscitated in 2000, police arrested 147 protesters who tried to block Denverites from celebrating a national holiday.


Where do we even begin to unravel this nonsense?

First of all, Vernon Bellecourt is not the principal spokesman for the American Indian Movement and certainly not for Colorado AIM. Vernon Bellecourt lives in Minneapolis and heads that particular chapter of the American Indian Movement.

Secondly, Vernon Bellecourt had no hand in organizing any columbus day protests in Denver. He did not organize any part of the 1991 protest and played no part in the 2000 protest either. The very idea of Vernon Bellecourt coming to Denver to organize an event is about as ridiculous os the notion of David Duke going to East Lost Angeles to organize the community in a protest against Cesar Chavez. Or Zell Miller travelling to Berkley to rally people against George W. Bush. You get the point. It wouldn't happen and it never did, despite what Harsanyi claims.

Thirdly, the "violent" civil disobedience that Harsanyi refers to, in 1991, resulted in the cite and release of 4 people who were later acquitted of the misdemeanor charges. Notice how Harsanyi portrays 4 people standing in the streets as an act of violence while he excuses the slaughter of the Indigenous Peoples of the Carribeans as some small social faux pas.

And so his column continues, with Vernon Bellecourt acting as Harsanyi's straw man against whom he argues against.

Bellecourt says Columbus - an Italian - spurred an orgy of "murder, torture, raping, pillaging, robbery, slavery, kidnapping, and forced removal (of Indians) from their homeland."


That Columbus was Italian is now a matter of debate. There have been a couple of programs, the most recent on the Discovery Channel, that claim Columbus was possibly a Castilian Pirate who washed up on the shores of Italy. It seems he had a pattern of washing up on shores.

Again, in his next paragraph, Harsanyi engages in suggestive claims without substantiating them

But when I mention that Native Americans weren't exactly peaceful egalitarians, collecting berries and expanding their utopia when Columbus arrived, I get a lengthy spiel on some elaborate plot by the CIA in Guatemala and "reactionaries."


Harsanyi never documents or presents any historical evidence that would support his implication that Indigenous Peoples were committing the same atrocities as Columbus.

Further down, Hansayari again posits a claim without any support

Pamela Wright, maiden name Ciancio, acknowledges atrocities under Spanish rule, too, but disputes the Reverend's characterization of Columbus.


So Pamela Wright disputes historical fact on what basis? If she wants to cling to a myth because of some sort of psychological defense mechanism, then that should be given as the reason for why she disputes historical fact. Simply saying that she disputes it, without offering any reasons why, makes it sound as if she is invested with an authority that no one other than Hansayari seems to recognize.

Finally, we get this paragraph near the end of the column.

No one is innocent. Columbus included. Yet, to Americans who march each year, he is a courageous hero for bravely traversing the Atlantic and (sort of) discovering America.

Had Harsanyi ever been to the Denver Convoy of Conquest, he would have seen that there are actually more people demonstrating against Columbus than marching under his banner. From that, we could conclude that more Americans see Columbus for what he really is. An African slave trading, indian killer, who initiated the Conquest of the Americas.

But when you live in Dave Harsanyi's world; a world of fabricated history, unsupported beliefs and outright delusions, it's easier to see Columbus as a hero.

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