Monday, October 08, 2007

Happy Columbus Day?


In the U.S., today is a quasi-holiday for which federal employees get the day off, but most of the rest of us have to work.

Hero or White Devil?
The holiday is meant to celebrate what most of Americans have learned is the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in the year 1492, but not all Americans agree is should be a cause for celebration. In fact, some would say that it's a spit in the eye of the original population of this country. I mean how could it be claimed that this man "discovered" a land where people were already living?

So, the question is, was Christopher Columbus:
a. A brave discoverer of America who founded a new land for his country and brought civilization and happiness to the uncivilized tribal groups that suffered on this land?, or,

b. A bungling, lost sailor who arrogantly exploited the charity of a native population for his own personal enrichment, and eventually opened the door to decimation and destruction of a proud people?, or,

c. Something in between?

Current Knitting/Crocheting
I was able to get quite a bit of knitting and crocheting done this weekend.

First, I finished the Trekking socks inspired by pattern in The Knitting Man(ual).


They came out very nicely, and gave me the chance to experiment with a new heel that I like very much. I will fiddle with it a little, but I will definitely use it on future socks.

I also got some work done on the crochet lace tablecloth.



I was able to add five more stars and also start to work on the filler motifs...just three of them. Just think, only 91 more large motifs to go.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks all for your comments and thoughts on the definition of "rich." Suffice it to say that I'm not in that category...at least financially.


Most folks don't go back and read prior blog entry comments, but since I get an e-mail every time a comment is saved, I see them all. I thought y'all might like to see one of the pearls that came across my in-box. Regarding what I called the laughable comments of the leader of Iran at Columbia University, Caitlan writes,
"Well, what would you say if you were the leader of people who executed people for being gay? It's not like he can single handedly turn his country tolerant. I don't think his stance is the most admirable one by any means but he is not condemning any one or anything, so I think it is an acceptable statement."

I don't know where to start on this. To think that saying there are no gays in Iran is in no way an acceptable statement, even if he believes he's executed them all. And to say that his statements don't condemn anyone is either delusional or ignorant. By ignoring (or worse yet, intimidating) gays in his country into the closet is condemning them, just like denying the holocaust is his way of condemning Isreal.

18 comments:

angie Cox said...

As a Brit. and a Quaker I guess I am at least forced to think about the early settlers . A desire for safety from relious intolerence isn't quite what it seems . Who could be more intolerant than the Republican government we had for some 11 years ? So it couldn't have all been about that. The exploitation of the Native population for commercial gain , territory etc. sickens me . These same Puritans were mainly landowners here who exploited the poor to win their war and because they were greedy for wealth but not to pay tax for the ships needed to fight off pirates bringing back wealth from The New World . Columbus can have had no other reasons than to seek land and wealth and no matter who had to die. I certainly don't think it should be celebrated .I find it as repulsive as any so called "Loyalist" celebrating winning The Battle of the Boyne.I really don't get Caitlin and like what you say.

Meribeth said...

B...a very solid B, after reading Howard Zinn's "American History"

He wasn't the first anyway.

I would rather see a holidya for Johnny Appleseed. Better person, did more for the country, and about as real as C.C.

Carol said...

Well, I have to give Columbus credit for (a) persistence and (b) not accepting the status quo when it came to the prevailing view of the map.

However, I think it's good that the US is downplaying what used to be a bigger holiday given all the misery that he caused to Native Americans.

I guess that makes me a (c).

I think my view of Ahmed.....jad is best summed up by this clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnpNkPCcfBM
(search YouTube for "SNL I Ran" if the link is broken).

Elizabeth said...

I'm a uniter, not a divider (heh), so I'm going with c. I think judging people who lived many years ago by what we know now is kind of unfair. It actually takes a lot of vision to be able to step outside the bounds of your own culture and take an objective look at it. For instance, even though it's very obvious to us today that slavery is horribly wrong, it took a real leap of intellect for the people in the vanguard of the antislavery movement (other than the slaves themselves, that is) to come to that realization and start rebelling against it. I'd like to think I would have been among them, but realistically I doubt I would have been that smart and/or brave.

By the same token, I think I see public opinion beginning to make a sea change on the issue of gay rights. First there had to be a vocal minority, and then as their ranks grow, more and more people are having to stop and really give some thought to the subject and when that happens, many people realize discriminating is unfair and in fact, unAmerican.

Sherry W said...

I think it's a 'c'.
In the end I think CC has enough guilt to condemn him, and enough boldness to praise him.

For one, I think CC needs to be judged in part by his actions of the day. Blaming them for bringing illness to the natives, for example, doesn't seem to be fair since that seemed to be unintentional.

Slavery, while not a past to be celebrated, was a way of life back then. Can we hold CC to our modern values- a merchant looking for wealth- and expect him to have become an anti-slavery leader in 1492? We may as well flush most of our founding fathers (including Washington).

What bothers me more about CC is the stories of hunting people for sport, feeding living people to dogs, etc. If true accounts, these things cannot be ignored.

In modern times Italian Americans, a group with thier own history of hardship, chose him as their hero and as a symbol of pride. Even if the facts of his heroics are as mythological as the Easter Bunny, do we have the right to take that from them? Plently of Native American heroes where savage killers, after all, they may argue.

We *do* need to teach the effects of colonialism to our children. Let them decide for themselves what they think of the man, instead of focusing on cardboard cutouts of the three ships.

anne marie in philly said...

let's can this "holiday", shall we? a govt. excuse to take a day off; such a waste.

what a delight to see another sexy leg shot! umm...umm...good!

Franklin said...

When I was growing up in Hawaii this was known as (and probably still is known as) "Discoverer's Day."

Much as I hate to paint people from the past with a modern brush, it doesn't seem to me that being "discovered" did much good for any of the native peoples of the "New World" or the South Pacific.

At least it's not George Bush Day or something like that.

Carol said...

Franklin, hon, I think George Bush day is celebrated on April 1.

Dutch Jan said...

Great socks Joe! and Carol and Franklin;I think the leader of Iran also celebrates his day on April 1

Marcia said...

An elementary school teacher asked her class if anyone knew why we celebrated Columbus Day -- one kid raised his hand and stated, "Shopping!"

Evelyn said...

I would be willing to give ol' Chris credit if he had known or admitted that he was in a whole new place, and not India. But from what I know, he stubbornly insisted to his dying day that this *was* India. So how can he get credit for discovering a new land if he never even knew he had done it? It was hard luck for the native Americans, but it was also inevitable. I don't think any contact between two different cultures ever goes smoothly. The Catholics did some pretty awful stuff to the Indians, but the Indians were doing some pretty awful stuff to each other too. I just wish we could learn the lessons of history and cut it out now!

By George said...

lol Carol.. that is just too funny..but really the joke is on us.. lol

I like that heel too. I'll try that if and when I ever make another pr of socks.

And that little crochet.. cheeze I don't know if I could do that anymore. My eyes ain't what they used to be.

Well my husband works for the govt. So we aren't unhappy about the day off with pay. But I understand.

Pam the Yarn Goddess said...

Joe, your work is gorgeous. I've been doing this stuff for 47 years now and can tell you that yours is some of the finest I've seen.

I found your blog through your comment on Mar's blog. I seem to be able to blab on and on, too (although I don't know if my content is any good - but I like to think so LOL). You're certainly welcome over on my blog any time you wish. :)

Ryan said...

B, definitely B. And it's not just "in the past." Come here to Washington state and see the Native Americans still living on reservations, or go to Hawaii and see the disparity between the races there. It's all still happening even now.

Andy's Crafts said...

Is a nice Holiday, The conqueror's were not nice, but then again no Conqueror's are nice. It's time to understand the past and celebrate the Freedom we have due to his Discovery. Should we keep punishing the Japanese and the Germans for what they Did? I think a lot of us Americans from the US love to talk about Christopher Columbus which was not his real name,and instead of unity enjoy being an ethnic group. Because the Pilgrims were so Ethical weren't day lol!

Love the socks and your other project is coming along.

Sydney said...

Columbus Day = Invasion Day or Rape and Pillage Day.

Not that I have an opinion or anything.

Anonymous said...

How come you don't give the option of Columbus as a barbaric, cheating opportunistic sailor who initiated a holicoust of the people living in the land he so foolishly thought was India.

He gave blankets infected with small pox to the Navtive People already living in America.

He also denied the look-out who first spotted land, the monetary award that was his due.

I know there's more but I read about this about 22 years ago, so I no longer have all the details in an accessible part of my brain.

Howard Zinn wrote a wonderful book on American History beginning with Columbus. Zinn's a very respected historian, who I beliee is affilitated with Harvard, but I'm not sure about that. Matt Daemon narrated a fabulous documentary about Zinn.

Thanks for the opportuntity to comment!

Charli
Charlizeen ahat yahooooooooooooo

Seanna Lea said...

I can sort of understand Caitlan's comment.

He is in a country where speaking out leads to some horrible things (including loss of life) speaking in a country that he is not convinced won't do the same to him. He keeps his country's status quo even though it is horrible because he might not survive breaking the status quo.

I would not be surprised if he believes every word he says. It is sad and it sickens me, but if he is not then he might afraid or unable to speak out. I'm not sure that we can know that for certain.